We've been following how ridiculously aggressive Summit Entertainment has been when it comes to IP issues, and the Washington Post has an excellent article highlighting all of the same points we've raised
. It almost reads like someone went down the list of our Twilight posts
and wrote an article about all those vignettes. I doubt that's how the article came about, but it is pretty cool how neatly the stories in the article line up with what we've written about, concerning Twilight and copyright and trademarks. But the key point made underlines exactly what we've been trying to say for a while now (though does so more succinctly and eloquently):
Its lawsuits go far beyond curbing piracy and end up limiting how we can talk about pop culture.
The law may be on Summit's side in some cases, but the spirit of what the company is doing -- shutting down almost anyone referencing Twilight without its permission -- shows the shortcomings in how we understand and interpret copyright law.
In its lawsuits, Summit essentially argues that it should control almost any expressive activity related to the Twilight franchise because it has copyrighted the material and acquired trademarks associated with the movies. The studio might win its cases, but it fundamentally misunderstands the purpose of intellectual property law. Trademarks exist to prevent customer confusion about the source of a product, not to prevent discussion of the product or the trademark itself.
The piece was written by Christina Mulligan, who recently got plenty of attention for her thoughtful piece on the mixed messages
on copyright found in the TV show Glee
. It's great that a paper like the Washington Post is giving her a platform to write about these concerns. Hopefully it will finally reach some of our more stubborn and misguided DC-based politicians that intellectual property is being widely abused in troubling ways.