This recent decision from Ontario's highest court shows that
appearance and production releases can achieve the producers'
desired result. Ribeiro appeared in a well known CBC reality show
known as Dragons' Den, where guests make pitches to the
distinguished panel, and seek investment in their businesses. But
the Dragons can often be very harsh in their responses to proposals
they perceive as weak. Of course CBC has each participant sign a
very broad release to eliminate any claims. But in this case the
plaintiff claimed that despite the release, the broadcast had been
edited in such a fashion as to completely misrepresent the merits
of the business plan, and that CBC's conduct amounted to
"gross and reckless negligence, intentional misconduct, malice
and bad faith".
The plaintiffs were particularly concerned with the
program's voice over that introduced the segment as
"The Dragons never pull punches when they spot a
money-losing venture. Unfortunately, these next few ideas hit the
The broadcast also described the business proposal as a
The Court of Appeal agreed with the lower court that the release
signed was broad enough to protect CBC from any claims, and part of
the release wording included the following:
"I further understand that my appearance, depiction
and/or portrayal in the Program may be disparaging, defamatory,
embarrassing or of an otherwise unfavourable nature which may
expose me to public ridicule, humiliation or
That's strong language, but the plaintiff argued that CBC
nonetheless was obliged to edit the Program in good faith.
But the Court of Appeal said that Canadian courts do not
recognize a duty of good faith which alters express terms of a
contract, and stated:
"The release gives CBC sole discretion to edit the
recording as it saw fit and to portray a factual, fictional or
defamatory image of the appellants. Under these circumstances,
there could be no contractual duty to edit the broadcast in a
favourable manner as alleged. ...it falls squarely within the terms
of the release."
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