Kansas fans of the late singer Selena may have heard that her widower, Chris Perez, wants to turn his 2012 memoir, “To Selena, With Love,” into a TV series. However, Selena’s father Abraham Quintanilla filed a suit in Texas on Dec. 2, alleging a prior contractual agreement that may prevent the show from airing.
Quintanilla claims that a contract from 1995 prevents Perez from telling Selena’s story without authorization. A few months after Selena died, Perez reportedly agreed to receive 25 percent of the profits from entertainment properties belonging to Selena’s estate in exchange for giving up any rights to the deceased singer’s name, likeness and image. The contract allegedly transfers these rights to Selena’s estate. A cease and desist letter sent in October to halt production of the show was initially ignored by producers.
As no permission was given for the memoir or TV show, the suit says that both breach the contract. The publisher of the book is not currently named in the complaint, and a representative of Quintanilla’s estate said that there are no plans to include the publisher in the suit against Perez, his production company and Endemol.
While memories about an individual or event may be of a personal nature, they could become a business law matter when someone wants to sell or otherwise profit from one’s recollections. There might be many legal nuances involved with contracts about a person’s story, image or likeness. In such cases, one may want to consult with an attorney before signing a contract. Any language in a contract should be read carefully and understood as limits might be placed on how a story can be used.