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.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,
Companies: summit entertainment

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Musician Sues Summit Entertainment For Taking Down His Song In Twilight Dispute”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment

another lawsuit?

Sounds like someone else is trying to cash in on the success of Twilight. First it was that girl who claimed that Meyer plagiarized her work, then the hand model (that didn’t include a court case), then the literary scout that “found” Twilight, NOW this?
Seriously, if you haven’t gotten a paycheck from Summit already, it’s probably not going to happen. Get over it.


Re: Re:

So manure is sunk in a sea of manure? I get your point, but unless this guy was explicitly claiming that this song was offically related to twilight, it’s nothing more than fair competition along the lines of “If you liked Twilight, then you’ll love this!” Imagine if Amazon were to recommend non-Summit items to Twilight fans…the horror.


“Summit — who has shown itself to be ridiculously overprotective…”

Mike, you refer to Summit as “who” in this sentence. This seems a little odd to me because, while they’re certainly a legal actor, Summit is not a real person. Unless we want to encourage people to think about corporations as real people with all the rights of a human being, I think it would be far more appropriate to use “which” instead of “who” when referring to a corporation.


full story

I think only the courts will know the full story, but i say i have seen people write songs years before and never release but get inspired but something to make them release it.. maybe he changed the music or words to fit the film, we don’t really know the full story all the stuff written is speculation unless we actually hear what happen from the sources. just sayin


Dueling as an alternative

Its obvious with these types of lawsuits that one or both parties aren’t in it for reparations to any real damages but to ‘get back’ at the other people for daring to inconvenience them.

In this case the musician is upset that Summit had his video pulled and he wants to drag them through the mud as payback. Save everyone’s time and let them sort it out on the field.


Re: Re: Dueling as an alternative

Takedown notices are an incredibly powerful tool for copyright holders, but they’re also amazingly easy to abuse. With a simple letter, the company can make any content it doesn’t like disappear for a few weeks — and the victim, in practice, can’t do a thing about it. A counternotice is allowed to take much longer to process (as a matter of law) compared to a takedown notice. Again, in practice, there’s no penalty for issuing a false takedown, regardless of the theoretical threat of perjury charges.

Assuming for the sake of discussion that Summit really was wrong to issue the takedown, I would support the artist in this matter. He’s fighting back, saying “It’s not OK to issue false takedown notices.” If I were in his shoes, I would insist that any settlement include a clause binding the company not to issue false takedowns again, with a meaningfully punitive penalty if they do. Something like, if it can be shown that the company has issued a takedown notice in error a second time, they have to pay the victim at least $1 million per letter, doubling for each subsequent notice sent in error (to anyone, not just the same victim). I don’t want to cripple the company from protecting its assets, but I do want to give them a meaningful incentive to pay attention before they auto-send letters in the future.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Report this ad??|??Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Older Stuff
12:25 Australian Privacy Commissioner Says 7-Eleven Broke Privacy Laws By Scanning Customers' Faces At Survey Kiosks (6)
10:50 Missouri Governor Doubles Down On 'View Source' Hacking Claim; PAC Now Fundraising Over This Bizarrely Stupid Claim (45)
10:45 Daily Deal: The All-in-One Microsoft, Cybersecurity, And Python Exam Prep Training Bundle (0)
09:43 Want To Understand Why U.S. Broadband Sucks? Look At Frontier Communications In Wisconsin, West Virginia (8)
05:36 Massachusetts College Decides Criticizing The Chinese Government Is Hate Speech, Suspends Conservative Student Group (71)
19:57 Le Tigre Sues Barry Mann To Stop Copyright Threats Over Song, Lights Barry Mann On Fire As Well (21)
16:07 Court Says City Of Baltimore's 'Heckler's Veto' Of An Anti-Catholic Rally Violates The First Amendment (15)
13:37 Two Years Later, Judge Finally Realizes That A CDN Provider Is Not Liable For Copyright Infringement On Websites (21)
12:19 Chicago Court Gets Its Prior Restraint On, Tells Police Union Head To STFU About City's Vaccine Mandate (158)
10:55 Verizon 'Visible' Wireless Accounts Hacked, Exploited To Buy New iPhones (8)
10:50 Daily Deal: The MacOS 11 Course (0)
07:55 Suing Social Media Sites Over Acts Of Terrorism Continues To Be A Losing Bet, As 11th Circuit Dumps Another Flawed Lawsuit (11)
02:51 Trump Announces His Own Social Network, 'Truth Social,' Which Says It Can Kick Off Users For Any Reason (And Already Is) (100)
19:51 Facebook AI Moderation Continues To Suck Because Moderation At Scale Is Impossible (26)
16:12 Content Moderation Case Studies: Snapchat Disables GIPHY Integration After Racist 'Sticker' Is Discovered (2018) (11)
13:54 Arlo Makes Live Customer Service A Luxury Option (8)
12:05 Delta Proudly Announces Its Participation In The DHS's Expanded Biometric Collection Program (5)
11:03 LinkedIn (Mostly) Exits China, Citing Escalating Demands For Censorship (14)
10:57 Daily Deal: The Python, Git, And YAML Bundle (0)
09:37 British Telecom Wants Netflix To Pay A Tax Simply Because Squid Game Is Popular (32)
06:41 Report: Client-Side Scanning Is An Insecure Nightmare Just Waiting To Be Exploited By Governments (35)
20:38 MLB In Talks To Offer Streaming For All Teams' Home Games In-Market Even Without A Cable Subscription (10)
15:55 Appeals Court Says Couple's Lawsuit Over Bogus Vehicle Forfeiture Can Continue (15)
13:30 Techdirt Podcast Episode 301: Scarcity, Abundance & NFTs (0)
12:03 Hollywood Is Betting On Filtering Mandates, But Working Copyright Algorithms Simply Don't Exist (66)
10:45 Introducing The Techdirt Insider Discord (4)
10:40 Daily Deal: The Dynamic 2021 DevOps Training Bundle (0)
09:29 Criminalizing Teens' Google Searches Is Just How The UK's Anti-Cybercrime Programs Roll (19)
06:29 Canon Sued For Disabling Printer Scanners When Devices Run Out Of Ink (41)
20:51 Copyright Law Discriminating Against The Blind Finally Struck Down By Court In South Africa (7)
More arrow