According to Blabbermouth, Misfits have filed a lawsuit against publisher Abrams for using the band’s “Fiend Skull” artwork for a photobook, titled “Scream With Me – The Enduring Legacy Of The Misfits,” without authorization. The complaint was filed by Misfits AD, the company that Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only established to manage their intellectual property, including trademarks and copyrights.
The following was said in the lawsuit:
“[Abrams’ photobook] is rife with large-scale, repeated, and unlicensed reproductions of Misfits A.D. intellectual property. For example, the cover of the photobook prominently displays, without authorization, the Misfits A.D. ‘Fiend Skull design’ trademark and, in doing so, misleads consumers into believing that the photo book has been approved by, or is associated with, Misfits A.D., which is indisputably false.
The photobook also unabashedly copies wholesale copyrighted artwork associated with the MISFITS’ musical recordings and releases. The MISFITS’ copyrighted artwork is an integral part of the band’s extensive and highly successful line of officially licensed merchandise and its world famous lifestyle brand. In addition, the named authors of the infringing photo book have been falsely affiliating themselves with the MISFITS in connection with advertising and promoting the publication and release of the book, further harming Misfits A.D.”
The complaint also added:
“In addition to the infringing cover of the Book, the Book is structured around the MISFITS Artwork with chapters that consist entirely of unauthorized uses of the MISFITS Artwork, with each of the MISFITS Artwork reproduced multiple times on multiples pages of the Book and using both exact copies and variants of the MISFITS Artwork.”
Misfits A.D. reportedly sent Abrams a cease and desist letter after finding out about the book. The publisher said they got clearances from other copyright holders for the foreword, interviews, quotes, and a number of photographs in the book, but the lawsuit claims they denied needing authorization to use the “Fiend Skull” artwork.
UPDATE: Abrams have since issued a statement to Blabbermouth:
“Abrams intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit that has been filed on behalf of the MISFITS around the recent publication of the book ‘Scream With Me’.
As the plaintiff admits, the parties corresponded about this matter last July through their counsel. At that time, Abrams pointed out to the MISFITS’ counsel that the book’s publication was permissible under well-established trademark and copyright precedent. We are surprised to now see this baseless lawsuit nearly eight months later.
We are confident that the limited use of content that is alleged to be original to the MISFITS in the ‘Scream With Me’ book is well within the parameters of fair use. This same issue has been litigated in the recent past and courts have consistently held that such works are permissible, including in a well-known New York federal court case concerning a GRATEFUL DEAD visual book that documented the history of that band. In that 2006 case, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the pictorial history of the GRATEFUL DEAD was a permissible fair use.
Rather than having a sound legal basis, this lawsuit against Abrams seems to be mostly about the MISFITS’ desire to publish their own book. Just as there can be multiple books about the GRATEFUL DEAD, there can be multiple books about the MISFITS.”