We've got a copy of Roger Friedman's $5 million complaint against News Corp. and Rupert Murdoch. When you sue someone for breach of contract, aren't you supposed to actually quote from the contract? Just asking!
We can't figure out what the point of this lawsuit is. Friedman has landed a new job, and it seems failrly clear that if his intent was to extract a settlement out of Fox, he would either have already done so with a threat to include embarrassing information in a lawsuit. That clearly didn't work, so now we should at least get a lawsuit that has explosive charges. All this one has is the interesting, but irrelevant, claim that the copy of Wolverine that leaked was Rupert Murdoch's own. Without anything even hinting at evidence.
Friedman, who says he made $250,000 per year, contends, among other things, that Fox broke his contract by terminating him after he reviewed a pirated copy of Wolverine:
For purposes of evaluating that claim, we'd imagine that the terms of the actual contract itself would be rather instructive. But the complaint, penned by the always-called-legendary lawyer Martin Garbus, doesn't even quote from the contract, or lay out what, precisely, it obligated Fox to do or not do relative to Friedman. Which doesn't bode well for a breach of contract claim, does it?
Essentially, Friedman claims that no one told him that his column was a really bad idea until after it went up on Fox News' web site. His friend, who's a lawyer for News Corp., didn't respond to an e-mail he sent her letting her know that he was doing it. And a copy editor said he liked the column!
Also, some random editor who had no authority over Friedman also seemed to like it:
So you can't fire him—no fair! The only relevant issue, it would seem to us, regarding the question of whether or not Fox could fire Friedman was what, precisely, their contract had to say on the matter. The rest, like Friedman's weird and completely irrelevant reference to Scientology—his editor, Refet Kaplan, suggested that a mean comment on Friedman's column was posted by a Scientologist—is pretty much static:
Friedman also makes much of his contention—for which he offers no evidence—that the leaked copy of Wolverine actually came from Rupert Murdoch's personal copy. (We looked into that claim a while back when we first heard it, and for what it's worth, Fox says Murdoch saw Wolverine at a screening room and never had a DVD.) But so what? Does it matter how the movie leaked? News Corp. fired him ostensibly because he wrote about a pirated movie, and they didn't like that. If that pirated movie came from Murdoch's stash, what of it?
Whatever the merits of Friedman's breach-of-contract claim—for which he wants $180,000, the remainder of his contract—his libel claim for $5 million is a joke. It consists, in its entirety, of the claim that by referring to what Friedman acknowledges having done—watching a prerelease copy of a movie online—as "piracy" in a statement, News Corp. libeled him.
We won't get into Friedman's "integrity and reputation" as a journalist, but if he thinks that by calling his viewing of an illegally pirated film "piracy"—even if Rupert Murdoch left it on a plane somewhere and that's how it got pirated—Fox has libeled him, he's crazy.
There are a million things wrong with News Corp. But they can fire whomever they like. Maybe Friedman's contract actually has terms that work in his favor in this instance. But if so, he might want to tell people about them.