This post is authored by Fox Rothschild partner Christopher P. Beall:
The much ballyhooed case involving copyright and trademark claims against the producers of the Netflix television series The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina reportedly has ended, with news media reporting – based on a statement from counsel for the Satanic Temple (giving new meaning to the phrase “devil’s advocate”) – that the case has been resolved.
The television show’s attorneys confirmed the fact of the settlement, but disclosed no details. News reports indicate that the confidential settlement will mean that “the unique elements of the Satanic Temple’s Baphomet statue will be acknowledged in the credits of episodes which have already been filmed.” No information was provided as to whether the television show’s producers agreed to pay the Satanic Temple a license fee for use of the Baphomet image.
The underlying case, filed earlier this month in federal court in Manhattan by United Federation of Churches, an organization that operates under the name The Satanic Temple and advocates for religious liberty issues, had claimed infringement based on a statue used in certain episodes of the television series which was remarkably similar to the Satanic Temple’s Baphomet statue. Because of the similarities between the parties’ statues, as well as the fact that the Satanic Temple had obtained copyright registrations for its own work, it was likely that this case was headed for costly litigation over difficult questions under the Fair Use Doctrine. The fact that the case has settled means that the show’s producers can now focus on keeping Sabrina out of the clutches of warlocks, goblins, and other teen nemeses, rather than immersing themselves in the “transformative use” doctrine.
The rest of us will just have to wait for the next juicy fair use case to sink our teeth into.
–Christopher P. Beall