Washington Post Notes Summit Entertainment's Twisted View Of IP Laws On Twilight

from the nice-work dept

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.

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Comments on “Washington Post Notes Summit Entertainment's Twisted View Of IP Laws On Twilight”

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interval (profile) says:

Re: Ignore them

What we need is for one of these studios to launch some massively repugnant & punitive legal campaign against a mother who was taking videos of her little darling’s birthday party and who made a “Twilight” themed birthday cake (or something), that gets in the frame, and then post the video on youtube. And the case gets handled by some judge with sense and asks the studio “You automatically own any confection with the word “Twilight” on it? And you want this plaintive to pay you WHAT???!!”

Its nice to dream.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Ignore them

“btw – in conversation, can I still refer to that time of day when the sun has gone down and the sky is not yet dark ?”

I suppose if you really act like Twilight(C)(TM)(FU) does not exist then using the word twilight in normal conversation would not be an issue. I prefer ‘dusk’ anyway.

Bill W (profile) says:

I don't have high hopes ...

I think the reason that these sorts of articles won’t have much affect at all is that the regulators get no appreciation of the actual harm that the copyright maximilists are doing. They get continuous reminders from the industry that the “theft” is bankrupting corn farmers but the opposite harm isn’t being realized. Those that understand the issues can point to only societal issues or economic effects that are a bit vague and nebulous. Even refuting the “the music business is dying” claims, something easily done, is less effective than the well-heeled industry saying that they are dying.

I wish I knew what it would take to get the ones in the position to do something about it to understand.

out_of_the_blue says:

Benefit of the doubt isn't due corporations.

“[Summit] fundamentally misunderstands the purpose of intellectual property law”.

No, it’s *you* who don’t understand what it’s *become*, despite all the evidence accumulating in just one direction, probably because can’t believe that anyone can be so unreasonable and unjust in pursuit of profits that they’re willing to rip civil society to shreds — when they’re already living high off that society.

The distinction between Rich and Poor is that The Rich don’t accept boundaries as reasonable people do. The Rich really do believe that money equates to societal worth, and that they’re therefore “entitled” to rule the rest of us however they please, and we’re to be grateful that they provide jobs serving them.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from lawsuits, it’s that if you go in expecting a fair hearing and a reasonable compromise, and make even *slight* admissions, you’ll end up losing in *total* because law and profits respond to *extremes*, not reason.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Copyright article (and your blogs)

Good article, and I agree, except for one thing.
Imagine you are in politics, and want to stay there. You know (assuming you have not caught the public eye as Obama did), that you will need a LOT of money. Even if you have the money (in fact, especially if you have the money) you want to be elected on someone else’s money.
In spite of all the faulty journalism about how much money you could get from individuals, the reality is you have to have big business behind you, and for them, it is not emotional. They want a positive bottom line from all this.
So, if they want “copyrights”, even at the expense of our society, you give it to them (or leave politics).

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