The BeBop Corporation has sued online rental studio platform Giggster for $25 million, alleging breach of contract and fraud over the sale of multiple photo publications including Outdoor Photographer and Imaging Resource.
BeBop, which had previously acquired Madavor Media and all the associated photo properties, told PetaPixel on May 31 that it had successfully negotiated the sale of the photo-specific publications to Giggster and that an official announcement was forthcoming.
Weeks later, it appears that this will not come to pass as the two organizations could not come to terms.
BeBop claims Giggster and its founder Yuri Baranov and its CEO Tyler Quiel conspired to obtain the transfer of Outdoor Photographer, Imaging Resource, Digital Photo, and Digital Photo Pro without paying $891,000 — $400,000 in cash and $491,000 in other liabilities — due on the contract. BeBop claims the transfer contained all of the proprietary data for these publications, including subscriber information and login credentials associated with each of the photo properties.
As part of this agreement, BeBop says that it agreed to expedite Giggster’s request to bring Imaging Resource back online — which it did. The publication had been abruptly taken down prior to the sale and its URL rerouted to Outdoor Photographer prior to its reinstatement.
According to court filings, BeBop had set a deadline for Giggster to process payment by June 2, and when that date passed and payment had not been received, the music-based company was “forced” to take action.
“Your brazen and shocking conduct leaves us to conclude that you have conspired with each other to commit fraud and theft against our company — a scheme to get Imaging Resource back online,” BeBop’s Gregory Charles Royal supposedly said to Giggster. “We will be engaging private counsel to pursue all relevant claims/charges against you — as a corporation and individually.”
Giggster denies the characterization of fraud, at least in email accounts in the court filings. PetaPixel reached out to Giggster for additional comment, did not receive a response ahead of publication.
“Dear Gregory, We are in receipt of your latest communication and are quite disappointed with the tone, the threats, and the general spirit of the email. We are genuinely interested in acquiring the assets in question and given the size of the acquisition it is not only prudent for us to conduct basic due diligence prior to moving forward with closing, it is our corporate fiduciary duty to our shareholders and investors to do so,” Giggster wrote in an email to BeBop CEO Gregory Charles Royal.
“After our legal counsel had an opportunity to review the original agreement, several issues invalidating the agreement were highlighted within the agreement which we communicated to you on May 27, 2023. We have made several attempts to communicate with you to cure these inconsistencies, however, you have not been open to such discussions. Further, on June 1, 2023 we informed you that we were not ready to proceed with the closing and that no funds would be transferred until the highlighted issues were resolved.”
Listed as a factual allegation in court documents, BeBop characterizes this explanation as “common parlance known as the Jedi Mind Trick or GasLighting.”
BeBop’s general claim appears to be that Giggster used the negotiations and an agreement to “defraud” the music company of the “substantial proprietary assets which comprise its photo publication and website properties, including but not limited to content, company records, websites, logins, trademarks, licenses and subscriber and advertiser data.”
Basically, BeBop characterizes the entire negotiation and proposed agreement as a scheme, with no intention to ever fulfill the obligations or complete the purchase. Instead, BeBop says Giggster only wanted to use the proceedings to steal intellectual property and waste BeBop’s time.
BeBop is seeking a trial by jury and $25 million in penalties for the supposed breach of contract and fraud.