The Satanic Temple followed up its threats by filing a lawsuit against Netflix and Warner Bros. over the depiction of their Baphomet statue in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina television show. The Satanic Temple accused the show of ripping off their depiction of Baphomet and giving it a negative connotation in the show.
A report from Variety indicates the Satanic Temple is suing Netflix and Warner Bros. for $50 million in a copyright lawsuit. They accuse the show of fueling a “Satanic panic.” Their lawsuit claims they built their statue between 2013 and 2014 and based it off the 19th century painting. They claim it cost them around $100,000 to design and build the statue. The suit states their statue is an “original expression.” They note their statue contains two children looking up to the goat-headed male figure in awe. They are specifically suing for “copyright infringement, false description; and forbidden dilution under trademark dilution, and Injury to Business reputation dilution under New York General Business Law.
Their suit specifically points to a claim made by the production designer for the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Lisa Soper who spoke to Vice about the statue, “I think that’s kind of a coincidence…When you look at Baphomet, there’s really only a couple of statues of him-which, they have their statue, and we’ve got our statue in the show.” Soper would continue, “If you look at Goya paintings, if you look at a lot of the tarot cards, or the Alistair Crawley iterations of him – because there’s hundreds and hundreds of iterations of him, he’s always seen with his people around him and it’s more of like a father figure kind of thing. So depicting his children with him, that kind of studd, and those kinds of elements are all kind of the same.” She would conclude, “But it’s not different from, in my opinion anyhow… from any other other of the mass amounts of iterations of him that have been around.”
The Satanic Temple claims the statements made by Soper are false claiming that “Baphomet has never been depicted with two children gazing reventially at the Sabbatic Goat head.” They also indicate that prior to their statue that “Baphomet with Children depictions generally include large exposed large voluptous female breasts, not a male chest. The female breeasts are a central feature of the traditional depiction of Baphomet.”
The Netflix and Warner Bros. version of the statue seen on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina first appears in the second episode of the show and is the center piece of the Witches Academy. The Witches Academy is a place where witches go to study and sign their life away to Satan in his dark book. The statue on the show also features two children looking up at the goat man. The suit claims this depiction creates a stereotypically evil representation of their artwork and organization.
The Satanic Temple is best known for its lawsuits against local and state governments involving the display of religious items on public property. Probably, its most high profile case involves the inclusion of a Baphomet statue next to the Ten Commandments at the Oklahoma state capitol. They are also embroiled in a similar battle with Arkansas.
This might be an interesting case, to say the least. Netflix and Warner Bros. will most likely attempt to use the fair use defense against the suit from the Satanic Temple. Though it might not be so easy to invoke. According to Stanford University, in order to invoke fair use you normally have to associate the use of the material as either a parody or commentary and criticism.
What do you think? Does the Satanic Temple have a leg to stand on? Or is their “original expression” on their artwork not enough to claim copyright? Let us know in the comments below!