Professional gamer, Turner Tenny aka Tfue, is taking FaZe Clan to court over what he calls an “oppressive” contract. The pro gamer is citing a California law called the Talent Agency Act along with the California Business and Professions Code in his lawsuit that was filed on Monday. He argues that those who represent Esports players should be regulated like agents who represent TV and film stars.
In a report by The Hollywood Reporter, Tfue claims that the gaming organization is allegedly restraining his business opportunities. He also indicates they are taking up to 80 percent of his earnings. The report also notes that Tfue had to pass on a brand deal because of a conflict of interest, and that FaZe Clan has not paid him his sponsorship earnings.
Tfue’s attorney Bryan Freedman of Freedman + Taitelman wrote in the complaint, “In no uncertain terms, these gamers are artists, entertainers and content creators — they perform, they act, they direct, they edit and they stream.”
Freedman notes the Esports industry currently has “little to no regulation or oversight.” He adds, “There are no real organizations such as unions or guilds to help protect the content creators/streamers that drive the industry.” Freedman argues that “these young content creator/streamers are susceptible to being taken advantage of and exploited – often by those that are supposed to be looking out for their best interests.”
He goes on to detail an agreement Tfue signed with FaZe clan in 2018 describing it as “grossly oppressive, onerous, and one-sided.” He claims that FaZe Clan uses “illegal and anti-competitive provisions in the Gamer Agreement to severely limit Tenny’s ability to compete in the marketplace.” He believes this contract violates California Business and Professions Code which states, “every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void.”
He specifically discusses the fact that the contract does not allow Tfue to sign deals outside of FaZe Clan.
Moreover, Freedman notes that Tfue has not been paid for a number of sponsorship deals. He specifically points to a sponsorship deal with Digital Storm where Tfue’s videos “garnered over 19 million views” that promoted Digital Storm’s products. He notes, “FaZe Clan has retained those payments from third-parties without distributing them to Tenney. Faze Clan’s continuous failure to distribute these monies to Tenney constitutes a material breach of the Gamer Agreement.”
The complaint also alleges that Tfue attempted to terminate his contract with FaZe Clan last September due to their alleged breaches. Faze Clan disputed the termination.
Tfue is requesting the court terminate the original Gamer Agreement with Faze Clan. He’s also seeking fair payment for his services, disgorgement of FaZe’s clan profits as well as punitive damages.
Not only did Tfue file a lawsuit against FaZe Clan, but Freedman took the case before the California Labor Commissioner for FaZe Clan’s alleged violation of the Talent Agency Act (TAA).
California State law requires that any person or company:
“who engages in the occupation of procuring, offering, promising, or attempting to procure employment or engagements for an artist” must be licensed by the labor commissioner and conform to professional regulations. Its definition of “artist” includes a catchall of “persons rendering professional services in motion picture, theatrical, radio, television and other entertainment enterprises.”
In Freedman’s petition before the California Labor Commissioner, he writes, “Not only does Faze Clan take advantage of these young artists, it jeopardizes their health, safety and welfare.” He adds, “Faze Clan also continuously pressured and encouraged Tenney and others to undertake dangerous stunts while performing in videos. During one video, Tenney suffered an injury to his arm while skateboarding which resulted in permanent disfigurement.”
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Freedman said, “Tfue and my law firm are sending a message. “The time is now for content creators, gamers and streamers to stop being taken advantage of through oppressive, unfair and illegal agreements. The significant legal actions taken today will be a wake up call that this behavior will no longer be tolerated. The gaming community deserves a safe environment that allows gamers the freedom to control their own careers.”
FaZe Clan responded with their own statement.
“We’re shocked and disappointed to see the news of Tfue’s press article and lawsuit. Over the course of our partnership with him, which began in April 2018, FaZe Clan has collected:
$0 – Tournament Winnings
$0 – Twitch Revenue
$0 – YouTube Revenue
$0 – from any social platform
In fact, we have only collected a total of $60,000 from our partnership, while Tfue has earned millions as a member of FaZe Clan. While contracts are different with each player, all of them – including Tfue’s – have a maximum of 20% to FaZe Clan in both tournament winnings as well as content revenue, with 80% to the player. In Turner’s case, neither of those have been collected by FaZe Clan.
We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished together of the past year with Turner and will continue to support him.”
What do you think of the claims brought in the suit by Turner Tenny aka Tfue? Was this something to expect in this new industry? Let me know your thoughts below!