TMZ Sued Over OJ Simpson Book Downloads/Kill and Tell: Victim’s Family Win Right to Publish Book
TMZ.com Going to Court For Raping Simpson Confession Book
By Brian K. White
Jul 7, 2007
Spiny lawyers for the family of the well-slain Ron Goldman say the AOL/Time Warner gossip site TMZ.com should be held in costly contempt of court for posting a full copy of O.J. Simpson’s “If I Did It” book. You know the one, it’s the book where he admitted how he killed Nicole Brown Simpson, Ron Goldman and got away with murder times two.
But then again, aren’t all AOL/Time Warner publications sensational crap? …
Dan Glaister in Los Angeles
Wednesday July 4, 2007
If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened had always seemed a rather unwieldy title for the story of one of the most notorious murders in modern American history. Confessions of a Double Murderer, however, is a different matter.
OJ Simpson’s controversial account of how he would have killed his wife Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman is finally to be published, following a court order issued last month. But the proposed publication will not benefit Simpson, his family or any of those involved in the original, aborted project.
Instead the rights to the book have been acquired by Goldman’s family from a court-appointed trustee.
“Ron Goldman LLC will own Simpson’s name, likeness, signature and story and will hawk it to satisfy this terrible judgment. Justice has arrived in Miami,” the family’s lawyer, David Cook, told the Associated Press.
“The contract and the rights are going to be circulated among every major publisher, literary agent, movie and TV producer and entertainment lawyer in the United States,” Mr Cook added.
A bankruptcy court last month awarded the Goldman family ownership of the copyright to the manuscript to prevent Simpson profiting from its sale. Goldman’s family argued that any proceeds from the book should go towards a $33.5m (£16.5m) court award against the former actor and American football star. The award was granted by a jury which found he was responsible for both killings in a civil case brought after his acquittal for the 1994 murders. Simpson has avoided paying the award by declaring bankruptcy.
But an attorney for Simpson disputed the extent to which the Goldmans can exploit his image. “The bankruptcy trustee does not have the right to sell Simpson’s name, likeness, image and the like,” attorney Yale Galanter said.
In court hearings last month bankruptcy judge Jay Cristol ruled that Simpson stood to gain from publication of the book. The judge ruled that a company set up by Simpson’s daughter to oversee publication of the book was designed to channel money to him. Simpson had always insisted that any profits from the publication of the book would go to his children.
News of the book ignited a media firestorm at the end of last year that led to the demise of the imprint that was to publish it and a crisis that rocked Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Regan Books, which was reported to have agreed to pay Simpson $800,000 for the book, was part of the HarperCollins publishing group which in turn is owned by News Corp. Publication of the book was to have been preceded by a TV interview conducted by the imprint’s head Judith Regan and broadcast on the Fox News cable channel in the US, which is also owned by News Corp.
But in the wake of an outcry over the sensationalist content of the book and the possibility that Simpson would profit from its publication, both book and interview were cancelled by Mr Murdoch. Regan was dismissed from the imprint and it was shut down after she allegedly made anti-Semitic comments.
In a deposition given in the bankruptcy case last month, Simpson’s oldest daughter Arnelle shed light on the background to the project. She said the book had been her idea, conceived with a friend called Raffles Van Exel, who was a vocal supporter of Michael Jackson during his trial. Simpson convinced her father to take part in the project and set up a company, Lorraine Brooke Associates, to sell the rights.
“This company was an effort to begin to do something for herself, not to fund Mr Simpson’s legal fees,” an attorney for Arnelle Simpson told ABC News. “Even though HarperCollins cancelled the publishing deal with LBA, plenty of other publishing companies are interested in buying those rights.” However shortly before a court-ordered sale of the rights to the book in April, LBA filed for bankruptcy.
In last month’s ruling, Judge Cristol said that LBA was set up “to perpetuate fraud”. He ruled that there was a money trail showing that $630,000 (£315,000) paid by HarperCollins to LBA was then transferred to Simpson, who used it to pay tax and other expenses.
In exchange for the rights to the book, the Goldman family must pay the bankruptcy trustee 10% of the first $4m in gross proceeds plus a proportion of all profits.
One chapter of the unpublished book deals with the Simpson’s version of the killings. Titled The Night in Question it describes how Brown-Simpson fell outside her home, hitting her head. As Simpson and Goldman confront each other, Simpson writes: “Then something went horribly wrong, and I know what happened, but I can’t tell you exactly how.”