Summit Entertainment Sues, Saying Only It Can Make A Documentary About How 'Twilight' Impacted Forks, WA
from the once-bitten dept
Summit Entertainment, the studio behind the massively successful Twilight series of films, is suing another company that made a documentary. Apparently the Twilight books and movies take place in the town of Forks, Washington. In this case, a company called Heckelsville Media wanted to make a documentary about how the books and movies impacted Forks. It pitched the documentary to a few companies, including Summit Entertainment, who agreed to release the documentary in conjunction with the most recent film’s DVD release. But one of the other companies that Heckelsville pitched liked the idea so much that it produced its own documentary on the same subject, which it’s releasing a few days earlier.
So, the question is whether or not this is legal. It seems pretty bizarre to suggest that only Summit could ever make a documentary about the impact a book and movie had on a town. Summit, who has a history of being ridiculously over-aggressive in trying to stop anyone from doing anything Twilight related, is claiming both trademark and copyright infringement (among a few other things). There may be an argument for trademark infringement, though it seems like a weak one, since this movie is about Twilight, not a competitor to Twilight. If it’s considered trademark infringement to make a documentary about a trademarked brand, then you could never make a whole bunch of documentaries. For example, can you imagine if GM had tried to stop Michael Moore’s Roger & Me by claiming trademark infringement?
As for the copyright claim, again, that seems rather weak, as it seems to focus on still images. There may be an issue with the unauthorized documentary makers originally using a cover that was similar to the original cover pitched by Heckelsville, but even then, the makers of the unauthorized documentary have already agreed to change the cover to make it different.
All in all, it seems like Summit is overreacting. If, as it claims, this other documentary was put together in a rush and isn’t very good, then why not compete in the marketplace to see which documentary people prefer?