‘Pam & Tommy’ follows the tumultuous romance of the titular couple, which is marred by the theft and subsequent spread of a private video recorded while on vacation. The two celebrities are completely blindsided by just how quickly the tape becomes viral, and all their money and connections cannot slow down its spread. In fact, in the season finale, they find themselves sitting before a young, smirking entrepreneur named Seth Warshavsky, who offers to purchase the rights of the highly personal tape from them.
In the show, Tommy almost hits Warshavsky, but Pamela seems to consider the deal as possibly the best course of action given the circumstances. The show does dramatize aspects of what really happened, so we decided to check whether Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee actually signed over the rights to their tape, and if so, how much were they paid for it?
Did Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee Sell the Rights of Their Tape?
As it turns out, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee did sign over the rights to their private tape to Seth Warshavsky’s Internet Entertainment Group (IEG). Having gone through fights and lawsuits (against publications like Penthouse), the couple finally decided to sign. Apparently, they were under the impression that giving their permission to stream it online would stop the tape from being sold in stores. However, as quickly became apparent, that was not the case.
It is worth noting that Anderson and Lee signed in the aftermath of IEG’s ClubLove website streaming the tape live for five hours on November 7, 1997, after a judge refused to pass an injunction blocking Warshavsky from doing so. On November 25, 1997, the couple signed the rights of the tape over to IEG, perhaps not realizing that Derek Newman (Warshavsky’s lawyer) had drawn up a relatively broad release for the use of the recording.
Soon enough, in addition to being streamed online, the video was also available in stores as physical VHS, CD-ROM, and DVD copies. This was a result of Warshavsky selling the recently acquired rights of the tape to Vivid Entertainment for an alleged $15 million. Thus, ultimately, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee did sign away the rights to their (now) famous tape, seemingly not realizing just how far it would consequently spread.
How Much Did Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee Get Paid?
Through online channels and from being sold in stores as physical copies, the tape earned millions in revenue. Whether the couple was paid for signing over their rights or later received any share of the profits remains largely debated and unconfirmed. In his book ‘Tommyland’ (with Anthony Bozza), the rockstar reveals that Warshavsky initially offered them a payment of $250,000 for signing over the rights of the tape — an amount the celebrity couple seemingly thought was meager.
When copies of the video became available in stores, the couple seemingly publicly stated that they had been misdirected and sued Warshavsky. In 2002, the case was decided, and the judge awarded Anderson and Lee $740,000 each. By that time, however, IEG had become largely defunct, and Warshavsky was in Bangkok, so the couple never received the money.
To this day, Anderson and Lee claim that they never profited from their leaked tape, meaning they never received any money for it. However, there are those that say otherwise, saying that signing away the rights of the tape would have involved a private deal that compensated the celebrity couple. All things said, it seems clear that even if they did receive a payment of some sort, it likely doesn’t come close to the profits that their leaked video went on to earn over the years.