George Santos sues Jimmy Kimmel after being ridiculed for Cameo videos

George Santos sued late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel on Saturday, accusing Kimmel of hiding his identity while soliciting videos from the disgraced ex-congressman over the celebrity video-sharing service Cameo, which Kimmel then used to mock Santos on air.

Kimmel announced in December that he pranked Santos by sending him fictitious requests on Cameo, which allows users to request brief greeting videos from celebrities and popular figures. Kimmel, allegedly using accounts not under his real name, asked Santos to speak on several bizarre topics, including congratulating a blind woman for passing a driving test and praising a man for winning an eating contest after devouring six pounds of ground beef.

Santos obliged, not knowing Kimmel was the recipient, and Kimmel aired the videos on his late-night talk show in December in a segment called “Will Santos Say It?”

Santos alleged Saturday in New York federal court that Kimmel and his show’s producers, ABC and Disney, committed copyright infringement by airing the Cameo videos they requested, which he argued were owned by Santos and not licensed for broadcast on national television. He also alleged that Kimmel committed fraud by creating fake profiles on Cameo to commission Santos’s videos.

Cameo’s terms of service state that videos on the platform are licensed, not sold, and that a personal license grants a recipient limited rights to use a requested video for noncommercial and non-promotional purposes. Cameo’s community guidelines state that users may not sign up using false identities.

Andrew Mancilla, an attorney for Santos, said in a statement to The Washington Post that Kimmel’s humor was “based on manipulation and exploitation.”

Kimmel, ABC and Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday evening.

In a December show days after Kimmel began sharing the Cameo videos he requested, the late-night host said Santos asked to be paid $20,000 after Kimmel aired his videos. Kimmel appeared to invite the prospect of a lawsuit from the ex-congressman.

“Can you imagine if I get sued by George Santos for fraud?” Kimmel said to a laughing studio audience. “How good would that be?”

Santos, who has fashioned a second act as a flamboyant social media personality and self-described “Former congressional ‘Icon’” on Cameo after being expelled from the House of Representatives for a number of alleged crimes and falsehoods, has entertained requests to troll senators, send Valentine’s greetings and sing Taylor Swift songs.

The move has been lucrative for Santos, who is negotiating a plea deal for 23 federal charges including fraud and money laundering. Santos has sold 1,200 of the videos, for which he charges $350 each, he told CNN in February.

For $350, George Santos will congratulate, cheer or troll you

Kimmel said on his show that he wanted to see how far Santos would go in entertaining bizarre video requests. He sent 14 requests to Santos in early December, according to Santos’s lawsuit, all of which Santos answered with videos.

Kimmel aired five of Santos’s Cameo videos across two shows in early December. In one video, Santos enthusiastically congratulated a mother for cloning her pet schnauzer dog. In another, he delivered an apology from a husband to his wife for burning down a shed with fireworks while trying to scare away a bear.

Kimmel said on air he would continue to release more of Santos’s Cameos. But he did not do so after attorneys for Santos sent Kimmel a cease-and-desist letter Dec. 12, according to Santos’s lawsuit. Santos also demanded that Kimmel and his producers remove clips from the show that they posted online, which they refused, according to the lawsuit.

Santos’s lawsuit alleged that Kimmel requested Santos’s Cameo videos under a personal use license, which forbids them from being used for commercial or promotional purposes. Santos also registered his videos with the U.S. Copyright Office in January, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also accused Kimmel of fraudulent inducement for requesting the videos under aliases such as “Jane,” “Ron,” and “Uncle Joe.”

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent Kimmel and his producers from sharing Santos’s Cameos and damages of over $150,000.

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