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Summit Entertainment Goes After Non-Twilight-Related Art, Claiming Infringement on Twilight

Take a look at this picture to the left. What does it remind you of? Anything? Or is it just a sketch of a woman with pretty hair? This piece of work by artist Kelly Howlett is actually the latter. It has no real title, except for the date “11-20-09.” If that date sounds familiar to you because you are a die-hard fan of The Twilight Saga, it’s because that is the same date that New Moon was released. You are probably still wondering what we’re writing about here, because this seems like these two things — Howlett’s sketch and Twilight — have nothing to do with each other. Well, Summit Entertainment, which owns all rights to The Twilight Saga, thinks it has enough to do with Twilight to warrant an email to Zazzle, where the sketch was being sold, claiming “infringement.” We’ll remind you: This sketch has nothing to do with Twilight.

We will issue a small spoiler so you don’t have to waste any time being annoyed or even outraged: Zazzle has restored Howlett’s sketch to its marketplace — using the same “11-20-09″ search tag that got it flagged — and right after it was pulled, Howlett was able to sell it on another site.

Now, back to the story at hand: Summit Entertainment going after an artist for “ripping off” Twilight even though her work has nothing to do with Twilight. Here is how this went down:

Howlett received an email from Zazzle, which said that her sketch was being pulled from the marketplace because it contained “an image or text that may infringe on intellectual property rights.” Confused, because she couldn’t think of what her original sketch could be infringing upon, she contacted Zazzle to get to the bottom of this, and they gave her the complete story:

“I was told, ‘Your product has been removed from Zazzle’s Marketplace due to an infringement claim by Summit Entertainment,’” Howlett wrote on her Facebook page. “‘This may be due to the actual design of the product, description, search tags or character names that references the Twilight Saga which is owned by Summit Entertainment.’”

Oh, is that right? Because they used “11-20-09″ on their marketing materials? So, Summit Entertainment owns the date of November 20, 2009? Howlett is not actually convinced that anyone at Summit even saw her sketch, that this was done by an automated process that found a (vaguely) familiar tag. But if that is what’s considered the intellectual property of anyone, then is there any stopping big companies like Summit from going after even the most minor of references, let alone the entre fan art community? And how are regular people who make fan art supposed to stand up to high-power corporate lawyers? (Answer: They can’t.)

Like we said, Howlett’s sketch is available to buy again on the site that had taken it down. Because a real human looked into the situation and said, “Yeah, that’s stupid. We’re gonna put it back up.” But the fact alone that this happened at all is unsettling, to say the least.

(via Blastr)

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  • Kaitlyn Clark-Bidgood

    The average fan artist shouldn’t have an issue with big corporations. The only reason that this one artist had an issue was because she was making money off of her design.

  • Tina

    What companies are strict on fanmade art? I know Disney is one, but I’ve seen fanartists sell Marvel, DC, BBC (Wholock) and Supernatural stuff. 

  • Kris Rudin

    So, can I not ever use the word “twilight” in any creative endeavor? What if I write a poem about the magical time when day ends, and I called it “Twilight”? Would Summit come after me?? Yikes!

  • ainok

     You could write a poem about Twilight Sparkle during Ragnarok (twilight of the Gods) at the magical time when day ends, battling vampires.

  • Tina

    inb4 Summit sues Hasbro for the use of Twilight AND Sparkle because sparkling is Edward’s thing.

  • Anonymous

    I think Ms Howlett should sue Summit Entertainment for defamation – the implication that she is in any way associated with the Twilight Saga might have caused her business to loose standing amongst people with good taste.

    In the mean time I might write a book about an entertainment company whose lawyers turn out to be eating children, which they cook on fires fueled by burning various holy books.  The entertainment company in question could be named “Not Summit Entertainment” just to remove any ambiguity …

  • Terence Ng

    All within the Twilight Zone.

  • Nathaniel Harada

     ….Except the artist isn’t a “fan artist” and the piece of work in question is an *original sketch having absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Twilight. At all.*

    In short, Summit Entertainment just tried to deprive an artist of her livelihood because of the *date* on an original work of art.

  • Anonymous

    Add some of Sergei Lukianko (Nightwatch/Daywatch/Keeper of the Twilight) work to it. It’s basically about Witches Vampyres, Werwolfs and Magician in a parallel Dimension called…wait for it.. Twilight! 

    Seriously Summit Entertainment, Nosferatu wants his non sparkling Fangs back.

  • Jocelyn Dugan

    Wow. Because Summit needs to make more money than they already have off of that crap-ass series. 

  • Sophie

    Certainly within the comic community selling fanart seems to be in the culture. I mean, I may be wrong here, but a lot of actual comics artists make money on the side by selling sketches, so I assume it’s allowed or at least overlooked…unless there’s some clause that allows this for comic book artists but not everyone else.

  • Emma Jones

    Or the Twilight Realm (Twilight Princess).

  • Frodo Baggins

    I took a huge dump on 11-20-09. Summit should sue me, because a pile of shit is definitely Twilight-related.

  • Michelle Fitzgerald

    I actually titled one of my books ‘Midnight Sun’ (just a working title to get it published on so I half expect to get a take-down notice anytime soon over that :P

    Only issue being I put it up online years before the Twilight book ever came out!!

    Which would be 10 kinds of hilarious given it’s a high fantasy book with a troll and an orc as the main characters so you know… nothing at all in common with Twilight other then the vague genre similarity. So you know, about as much in common as Lord of the Rings has with Twilight (which is thankfully only the genre they share.).

  • Frodo Baggins

    Same genre? Please. We up in the rarified air of High Fantasy. The seamy bog of Supernatural Romance can be found thataway.

  • Frodo Baggins

    Er, if you wanna talk about overzealous copyright enforcement, perhaps Dracula-in-all-but-name Nosferatu is not the best example.

  • Kaitlyn Clark-Bidgood

     I know in this case it was a COMPLETE attack against an innocent artist over an insubstantial and tenuous connection. I was just speaking in generalities in reference to the last part of the article.

  • Holly Melton

    What are the words woven into her hair on the bottom left of the picture? Is it possible that they’re from the books/movies?

  • Anonymous

    Your ignorance is showing. You might want to do something about that.

    There are plenty, whose lawyers will go after anything even mildly associated with the original works, be it fic or art:

    Here are a few examples of the ones who definitely will:

    Archie Comics

    P.N. Elrod

    Raymond Feist

    Terry Goodkind

    Laurell K. Hamilton

    Robin Hobb

    Megan Lindholm (Robin Hobb)

    Dennis L. McKiernan

    Robin McKinley

    Irene Radford

    Anne Rice

    Anne Rampling (Anne Rice)

    A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)

    Nora Roberts

    J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts)

  • Anonymous

    It seems to depend at least in part on what level of strictness companies think they can get away with in certain communities without angering the fans. Selling fanmade art is an incredibly common practice in Japan, for instance, and fans very openly sell anything except Disney. If companies like Marvel cracked down there, they’d get a reputation for being evil nasties who hate their most loyal fans. The atmosphere is pretty different on the English-language net. Plenty of fans will go “well, it’s your fault for selling it in the first place” if a company makes threatening noises towards a fan, so that gives companies more leeway to be strict without pissing people off.

  • Terence Ng

    All nefariously and confusingly orchestrated by Twilight (Buffy).

  • Life Lessons


  • Platon Martynov

    u managed to misspell Sergey Lukyanenko )

  • Kaitlyn Clark-Bidgood

     Oh wow. Patronizing someone over the internet. You obviously must be someone of superior intelligence…

    All of those writes/corporations actively go after fan fiction authors and anyone that sells anything associated with their work, as well as large sites which host it. Again, the AVERAGE FAN ARTIST, doing drawings and putting them on Facebook or DeviantArt shouldn’t and doesn’t have a problem. Go do a search for characters from any work associated with those that you listed. You will find plenty without any legal issues.