The latest legal development in the saga that is Fyre Fest? A copyright infringement lawsuit that centers on Netflix’s recently-released documentary about the epic failure that was Fyre Fest, the luxury music festival that was set to take place in the Bahamas on two consecutive weekends in late April and early May 2017 but ended up being little more than a venture that duped investors out of tens of millions of dollars and left music festival-loving millennials stranded.
According to the complaint that influencer and Fyre Fest attendee Clarissa Cardenas filed in a New York federal court late last month, Netflix and fellow “Fyre” documentary producer Jerry Media are on the hook for allegedly using one of her original videos from the failed music fest for the highly-watched film without her authorization, thereby infringing her exclusive right as the copyright holder to copy and display the video, and to create derivative works including the video.
Austin, Texas-based Cardenas asserts that in December 2018, she received a copyright registration from the U.S. Copyright Office for the video at issue, which she took on May 1, 2017, depicting the less-than-lavish accommodations at the festival’s site on the Bahamian island of Exuma. In exchange for tickets that cost between $1,500 and $250,000, Fyre Fest organizers promised "luxury villa" accommodations, which turned out to be little more than sparse, partially constructed tents.
Cardenas is seeking monetary damages of at least $150,000, and has asked the court to order Netflix and Jerry Media, the latter of which not only co-produced the documentary but was also hired to spearhead all of the marketing and promotion for the festival, itself, to provide her with an accounting of all profits made from the film. She argued that they should be disgorged of all benefits, including profits, they received as a result of their unauthorized use of her video. Cardenas is also seeking injunctive relief, i.e., a court order that the defendants immediately and permanently cease all use of the allegedly infringing video in the documentary and any related marketing.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of backlash faced by Jerry Media’s founder Elliot Tebele, the man behind the popular Instagram meme account @FuckJerry, for building a multi-million dollar Instagram-based business by stealing others’ intellectual property, including original imagery, videos, tweets, and memes.
*The case is Cardenas v. Jerry Media LLC and Netflix Studios, LLC, 1:19-cv-01937 (SDNY).