Musician Sues Summit Entertainment For Taking Down His Song In Twilight Dispute
from the takedowns dept
This one is a bit confusing, but an artist named Matthew Smith apparently wrote a song back in 2002, but late last year he tried to re-market the song by trying to associate it with the Twilight Saga movies. He did so by doing some sort of deal with the company that sells pre-movie ads to promote the song in various theaters… and by getting an image designed as the “cover” image for the song that was inspired by the Twilight Saga — using a moon and a similar font to the movie’s advertisement. Summit — who has shown itself to be ridiculously overprotective of its trademarks and copyrights issued a takedown to YouTube, where the song was hosted. This part isn’t clear, because I’m not sure where the song image was included on the YouTube page. I guess in the video, but the article linked above doesn’t say.
YouTube, of course, took down the video, and a back and forth between lawyers ensued, with Summit claiming that the image represented trademark infringement — and claiming that YouTube “does not differentiate between copyright infringement and trademark infringement.” I’m not quite sure that’s true, and it makes me wonder if Summit actually sent a DMCA notice, which you’re not supposed to use for trademarks, or if it sent a different type of takedown notice (entirely possible). Either way, Smith has sued first, claiming misrepresentation by Summit, and saying that the song clearly doesn’t infringe on Twilight’s copyright, because it was written well before the Twilight Saga existed. Of course, as the article at THResq notes, in doing so, Smith also shows that he misrepresented himself in advertising that the song was “inspired” by the Twilight Saga.
It doesn’t seem like he really has much of a case here. While I think it was probably pretty pointless and petty for Summit to issue the takedown, it’s entirely possible that the guy was infringing. The real question is whether or not Summit really did make a copyright claim here, rather than a trademark claim — but even if that’s the case, I can’t see the “damages” being that high. Either way, it seems like another silly intellectual property-inspired legal fight, that has little to do with what either copyright or trademark law were intended to do.