' Dimitra Rallis | MTTLR

Satan, Sabrina, and Netflix: A Copyright Story

The Satanic Temple filed a complaint against Netflix in federal court in the Southern District of New York on November 8, 2018 for copyright infringement, trademark dilution, and injury to business reputation. I initially drafted this post prior to the commencement of the suit, but many of the issues I discuss below appear in the complaint. As such, this blog only addresses the copyright claim. On October 28, 2018, Lucien Greaves, co-founder and spokesperson of The Satanic Temple (“the Temple”), tweeted the Temple’s intention to take legal action against Netflix for an allegedly infringing statue featured in the new show, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. The Temple filed its lawsuit against Netflix and Warner Brothers, the producer of Sabrina, in the Southern District of New York ten days later. In Sabrina, the title character—a sixteen-year-old girl who is half witch and half mortal—attends a school for young witches and warlocks called the “Academy of Unseen Arts.” The Academy is affiliated with the fictitious Church of Night, a patriarchal entity whose members are compelled to do Satan’s bidding, including performing ritualistic cannibalism and blood rites. A large monument of a humanoid figure with a goat’s head—an iteration of the deity Baphomet—sits at the center of the Academy and appears prominently in several scenes throughout the show’s first season. Greaves was quick to point out the striking similarities between the Sabrina statue and the Temple’s Baphomet. To lawfully include a copyrighted work in a television show or similar media, producers must either obtain permission from the copyright owner to use the work or pay the copyright owner to license the work....