As if child-stars gone wild was some kind of surprise, Justin Bieber fans are freaking out over the possibility that the 18-year-old could be – gasp! – smoking pot and drinking alcohol, after pictures emerged on the Internet of the singer allegedly partying with friends.
“Beliebers” might have even more to freak out about if rumours about Bieber’s plans to counteract such negative publicity come true: He reportedly plans to post signs at his hangouts that purport to make any pictures taken of the star his property.
‘Naked’ Promises Won’t Work
“It’s not what the signs say that matters most,” Anderson tells Lawyers.com. “Instead, it’s what is given in exchange for the promise(s) in the signs, if anything.”
“Traditionally, a contract is a set of promises given in exchange for each other; one promise is ‘consideration’ to support the other,” she explains. For a contract to be binding – and thus Bieber’s co-partiers bound by his signs – both sides have to make such a promise.
“A purely one-directional or ‘naked’ promise typically would not be enforced,” Anderson says. “Here, Justin Bieber apparently is extracting a promise from the people socializing with him, i.e., ‘I promise not to take and/or distribute photos of you,’ without giving each of them anything in exchange, such as money.”
Grace Us with Your Presence
However, Anderson says, it may be enough that Bieber’s mere presence at a party is valuable enough to the socializers that a judge could count his “agreement” to stay and hang out with them as consideration – thus creating a binding contract.
She points out that the actual text of the sign has not been reported – and that would be a key fact here. Also, it would be important to know the mindsets of the partiers as well as where the partying takes place.
“Some states also have special rules that act as exceptions to the general consideration doctrine,” Anderson points out. “Thus, enforceability would depend on where Justin Bieber was extracting promises what he was purporting to give in exchange for them, if anything.”
Have others used such a tactic successfully to control what the public can do when they are in the presence of stardom?
“The signs remind me of the signs allegedly used by reality show producers that purport to obtain people’s consent to have their likeness, words, etc. used in the show,” Anderson says.
“Essentially, they say that by entering the bar/restaurant/beach, etc., the person consents to being on the show and even releases the show from any liability,” she explains.
Such signs might work, Anderson says, since the promise given by the show’s producers – the “consideration” required by contract law – would be “admission to the place plus the ‘opportunity’ to be on the show.”
But there’s usually a back-up method that’s safer for the shows or stars – if they can get it. “The safer option for the show is to have each person sign an actual waiver setting forth the terms,” she says. “I understand that most of them try to do that and just use the signs as a back up.”
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