In a 219-page antitrust complaint filed today, the makers of “Twiharder,” a spoof of the popular “Twilight” series, claim that Twilight’s producers sent baseless cease-and-desist letters alleging IP infringement, and causing the distributors of Twiharder to walk away:
Plaintiff Between the Lines Production, LLC, a Los-Angeles based independent filmmaker, produced a feature-length motion picture entitled Twiharder through its own independent methods and means of production, based on an 100% original copyrighted screenplay. Plaintiff’s motion picture, which was marketed with complete transparency as a “parody, ” utilized Defendants’ vampire romance movie franchise as an object of ridicule, criticism and sociopolitical commentary. None of the actual cinematographic, audio-visual or musical content (i.e., “1s and 0s”) from any of Defendants’ copyrighted motion pictures, images or soundtracks was used in Plaintiff’s motion picture. The actors featured in Plaintiff’s film portrayed hyper-exaggerated caricatures from The Twilight Saga movies and lampooned expressive elements embodied in Defendants’ pre-existing works through imitative reference. The title of Plaintiff’s motion picture, Twiharder, is itself a rhetorical parody of the very term used to describe an obsessed teenage fan of the franchise, known as a “Twihard.” Beginning in March 2012, several major WMPI [worldwide motion picture industry] distributors expressed interest in licensing the Plaintiff’s motion picture Twiharder for worldwide distribution so as to coincide with the Defendants’ theatrical release of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part Two) in November 2012. As in the art of comedy, the timing of content delivery in the movie business is everything. This was particularly true here given that: (a) the relevance and success of a parodical work is directly proportional to the widespread public awareness of the object being parodied; (b) no other feature-length parody motion picture was scheduled to be released in conjunction with Defendants’ exploitation of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part Two). . . . On June 27, 2012, Plaintiff became just one more victim in a long line of independent auteurs to receive a sham “cease-and-desist” C&D Notice from Defendants. Within days of disclosing the communication to its contractual offerors, the WMPI distributors and E&O insurers unceremoniously revoked their offers to deal with Plaintiff, whose feature-length motion picture Twiharder was at all times thereafter excluded from distribution in the WMPI.
The case is before Judge Rakoff.