The Satanic Temple alleges misappropriation, confusion of origin, and injury of reputation over a sculpture designed to be “a central part of its efforts to promote First Amendment values.”
While most mortals are obsessed with politics with week, The Satanic Temple is more focused on Baphomet, an androgynous goat-headed deity. The outraged outfit has followed up on threats with a $50 million lawsuit over Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, alleging the series has infringed copyright and defamed its deity by featuring imagery in an unflattering light.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a series produced by Warner Bros., follows Sabrina Spellman as she attends The Academy of Unseen Arts. At the school is a statue of Baphomet.
“Baphomet is a historical deity which has a complex history, having been associated with accusations of devil worship against the Knight Templar,” explains The Satanic Temple in its complaint filed in New York federal court. “Baphomet historically involved a goat’s head (sometimes known as the ‘Sabbatic Goat’) on a female body associated with Lilith, a figure from Jewish mysticism sometimes considered a goddess of the night. The classic visual representation of idea of Baphomet is an image created in or about 1856 by an occult historian Eliphas Levi…”
The plaintiff claims making modifications and holding copyright registration on a sculpture of Baphomet.
Its version of Baphomet, to quote one random website cited in the complaint, is the “most politically charged sculpture of our time,” perhaps meaning that this case can’t be divorced from politics after all.
“This case presents, among other things, a textbook example of the hornbook explanation of copyright protection that copyright law protects unique expressions, but not the ideas themselves,” asserts the complaint. “What makes this case particularly striking and significant is that it arises in the context of Defendants who are highly sophisticated media production and distribution companies which blatantly misappropriated Plaintiff’s unique expression of an idea even though they have a long history of vigorously protecting their own intellectual property.”
But the series didn’t just display Baphomet, states The Satanic Temple (also known as the United Federation of Churches) in alleged violation of copyright; Netflix and Warner Bros. are also faulted for misleading consumers as to the origin.
Perhaps ironically, The Satanic Temple states it designed and commissioned its Baphomet “to be a central part of its efforts to promote First Amendment values of separation of church and state and equal protection,” adding that the Netflix series’ “prominent use of this symbol as the central focal point of the school associated with evil, cannibalism and murder blurs and tarnishes the TST Baphomet with Children as a mark of TST.”
The final cause of action in this case is injury to business reputation.
The Satanic Temple wants more than money. The church also requests an order enjoining Netflix and Warner Bros. from any future reproduction or distribution of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina with its Baphomet.
Warner Bros. declined comment.