The Bachelor spoiler Steve Carbone, aka Reality Steve, has been sued by NZK Productions and Alternative Television, Inc., who want an injunction and damages of at least $75,000 for both his leaked information (which is often accurate but sometimes not) and for actively soliciting and offering to pay contestants for that information. He has, in the past, bragged about spoiling the show, once saying he’d “just continue to piss on their franchise by giving away spoilers.”
The Hollywood Reporter reports that he being sued “for intentional interference with contractual relations and unfair competition” and “is accused of obtaining confidential information about the Bachelor series by contacting and soliciting information from participants, cast, crew, and other employees of the series.” More significantly, I think, is that they’re accusing him of both encouraging people to breach their contracts and offering to pay them for information. The lawsuit says he sent this in a Facebook message to a contestant on the show:
“Since you are a student, and I know you have loans up the ying-yang, I’d be willing to compensate you…I swear, this is the easiest money you’d ever make and you and I are the only two people that would know.”
Another message he allegedly sent said:
“Let me just say, I’m very well aware of your contract. I also know that over 500 contestants have been on this show and not one of them has ever been sued for the $5 million. It’s just a scare tactic. Trust me. Just like they had no idea you sent me that last email, they’ll have no idea about any correspondence either. I know you’re scared and a little paranoid by it, but don’t be. Unless they are hacking your email or tapping your phone, there’s absolutely no way for them to find out.”
That’s kind of hilarious since the contestant obviously sent their correspondence to producers or the network. And that was followed with this:
“$2500 to help me out. Not joking. Some of this stuff is driving me nuts ha ha.”
His apparent active solicitation and participation in contestants breaching their contracts seems to be the real issue here. Journalists have generally been protected if they receive confidential or illegally obtained material from third parties and publish that (for some background, read this Student Press Law Center brief); actively soliciting it is different. As the paper notes, also at issue here is tortious interference, which is actively encouraging someone to break a contract you know they’ve signed and causing damages to a party to the contract as a result.