TMZ Slapped With Lawsuit For Airing Interview With Michael Jackson's Ex-Wife


TMZ was slapped by a lawsuit from a TV producer who claims they broadcast “confidential video footage stolen from and without consent of its owner,” according to his complaint.

F. Marc Schaffel, according to yesterday’s filing in a California court, says TMZ aired part of his 2003 interview with Debbie Rowe, Michael Jackson’s ex-wife, in July, without asking his permission.

He made a similar suit against Fox News for airing portions of the same interview.

Some excerpts from the interview were “broadcast around the world in 2003,” according to the complain. But other portions (the “Confidential Outtakes”) were kept locked up and were never meant to be publicly released without the joint consent of the producer and Rowe.

But one off-the-cuff joke made it on air and online.

Here is what happened, according to the complaint:

On July 20, 2009, TMZ broadcast the Confidential Outtakes portions of the Interview which consisted of a casual and jocular conversation between an interviewer and Rowe joking about using sedation to combat stage fright that was never intended to be publicly disclosed unless Schaffel and Rowe consented thereto.  Schaffel and Rowe were stunned and distressed that TMZ, in a misguided attempt at gallows humour, broadcast the Confidential Outtakes, attempting to tie a 2003 joke by Rowe about drug use to Mr. Jackson’s tragic 2009 death from a drug overdose.  

According to The Hollywood Reporter, TMZ may try to claim that its use of the clip was “fair use” and the court may apply the “four factor” test and look into the purpose and character of the use.

Schaffel, the TV producer, is seeking damages and copyright infringement. The “Confidential Outtakes” have “an estimated value of potentially millions of dollars, the exact amount of which shall be proved at trial,” according to the complaint.

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