Let's cut to the chase: Netflix just got sued for trademark violations and copyright infringement by the Satanic Temple, and it sounds totally insane until you dig down a bit into the details.
And then you start to realize that the group might actually have a case.
Let's back up. You might be asking: "I'm sorry, Netflix is being sued by the what?"
The Satanic Temple, which describes itself as "an established New York City-based religious organization," and which seems to exist largely as a counterweight to what it sees as a blurring line between church and state in the U.S.
Its claim against Netflix: that the video giant copied a statue of a deity called Baphomet that the organization created, and used the statue as a symbol of evil in its new show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
The Satanic Temple says it built its statue after raising $28,000 in a crowdfunding campaign in 2014, as part of an effort to donate a satanic symbol to the state of Oklahoma, and try to get it placed on the grounds of the state capitol.
Oklahoma had just accepted a monument to the Ten Commandments at the capitol, so this was something between a gift and a protest.
The group raised the money and built the statue, but Oklahoma wouldn't take it, so as the organization's lawyer explained to The New York Times, they now use it as "a symbol that they could bring out when they felt government wasn't separating church and state."
With the Netflix show, they say, they worry that if they use the statue at a protest, people who've watched Sabrina but don't know their history will assume that they copied the show, not the other way around.
Satanic Temple co-founder Lucien Greaves told CNBC that it's frustrating that "some Netflix show [with] a production department who did a Google image search" would simply copy the statue.
"A lot of people who haven't heard of us first stand to just recognize that monument as the Sabrina monument, which dilutes and denigrates the entire project," he said.
The Satanic Temple doesn't claim ownership in the deity Baphomet itself, but instead in the specific rendition that the group created. Their statue is entitled Baphomet With Children, and has very specific details according to their lawyer, including two children staring up at the "goat-headed deity."
And while a lot of people seem to think the lawsuit will be dead in the water, I'm not so sure.
For one thing, it's somewhat similar to a lawsuit that a sculptor filed against the U.S. Postal Service, after he realized that the government printed billions of "Forever Stamps" with an image of the Statue of Liberty replica he built for the New York New York hotel in Las Vegas--not the original statue in New York Harbor.
He wound up winning a little over $3.5 million plus interest. Moreover, even if the Satanic Temple loses, it's getting part of what it wanted by filing this lawsuit and giving interviews about it: namely spreading the word that it thinks Netflix copied its design.
Here are two photos that Greaves tweeted--one with the show's image and another of the organization's statue alone. What do you think of the connection and the lawsuit? Let us know in the comments.
For purposes of comparison... pic.twitter.com/AZJvmq1Cks-- Lucien Greaves (@LucienGreaves) October 30, 2018