Iron-clad Liability Protection for Idea Submissions?

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Several bloggers and commentators have been critical of the Travel Channel about its website soliciting people to submit their ideas for what could possibly become a new hit show. As pitching television show ideas has become a complex, involved and costly process, should one really blame them for trying to streamline the process? If people are willing to share their ideas for no compensation, are they not free to do so?

The comments seem to chide the Travel Channel for setting itself up to be sued for copyright infringement, idea theft or breach of implied contract (the current trend when copyright claims fail). Which did in fact happen when one of the idea submitters claimed his idea was used without compensation. Cardillo v. BBC, NBC Universal and the Travel Channel. Cardillo submitted his idea for a television show on the Travel Channel’s website. His idea was to follow his family as they traveled down to South America in an Winnebago. The idea was described in no more than a few, very generalized sentences. When the show “The Great American Road Trip”, which was a reality show competition involving seven families traveling across the country in recreational vehicles, aired on television, Cardillo claimed that his idea was stolen and sued.

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