Beer pong players sue over inclusion in 'World's Funniest Commercials' (video)

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Beer pong players sue over inclusion in 'World's Funniest Commercials' (video)

Thu Jul 15, 2010 @ 08:15AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

071718ds1 We have a hilarious complaint from two individuals who showed off their deft beer pong tricks in an ad for Carlsberg and who are now suing the brewer, TBS and the production company behind "Worlds' Funniest Commercials."

If you're not familiar with beer pong, it's a popular drinking game where players (mostly college kids) throw ping pong balls in hopes of landing them in a cup of beer. The plaintiffs, Scott Tipton and Christopher Kolb, seemingly play a lot of pong, a sport the complaint notes has "tremendous appeal to the demographic most coveted by TV programmers and advertisers."

Tipton was a law student at the time he filmed the commercial. He didn't want prospective employers seeing him execute complex tricks like richocheting the ping-pong ball four times off various uneven, angled surfaces and into the beer cup with back-spin (video after the jump). He also didn't want his conservative grandparents watching.

So the duo agreed to film the commercial, but producers allegedly agreed to restrict it to Danish airwaves. Oops.

The plaintiffs now say their contract specified the geographical locations that Carlsberg was authorized to broadcast the commercial, and there was only one entry: Denmark.

But the ad became popular and caught the attention of Robert Dalrymple Prods, producers of "World's Funniest Commercials." The plaintiffs think so highly of the appeal of their amazing beer pong tricks, they deem this to be "foreseeable."

The commercial wound up in "World's Funniest Commercials," allegedly airing on TBS in August 2008. The tricks also are said to have been featured in promos that ran "relentlessly" on the cable network.

Plaintiff Kolb is an aspiring actor and says he knew that the rate of pay for a Danish commercial shoot was below standard, and that if it was intended for broadcast domestically, he would have demanded a bigger paycheck for the project.

Both men claim the defendants appropriated their likeness without proper authorization.

Calculation of their damages is interesting. According to the complaint, 9 out of 10 "WFC" viewers were enticed to watch the show by the promo, so they are claiming that 90% of TBS's net revenue from the sale of advertising was attributable to the identity misappropriation. They want 50% of TBS' advertising profits from the show. The complaint pegs profits at around $3 million.

If beer pong is so popular, we wonder why it's not on ESPN. The actors may have some ground to stand on here, although in the age of YouTube, could they really count on nobody in the U.S. seeing a Danish commercial? Here's the commercial:

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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