A Walking Dead spoiler website has acquiesced to a threatened copyright lawsuit from AMC, the television studio behind the hit series. The Spoiling Dead will not publish who the character “Negan” killed at the end of Season 6, which aired in early April 2016. During that episode it was not revealed who in fact was killed in that particular episode.
According to a demand letter that The Spoiling Dead received on June 7, 2016, the production company behind the hit television show threatened to sue if The Spoiling Dead did not halt its planned reveal, citing trade secrets and potential copyright infringement.This demand doesn’t take into account the fact that the “victim” here [SPOILER ALERT] was already revealed in the comics upon which the TV show is based.
“The release of plot summaries and particularly the types of crucial plot elements that you have stated you intend to release, have been found to constitute copyright infringement,” Dennis Wilson, who represents AMC, wrote in the demand letter. “Specifically in Twin Peaks Productions v. Publications International, the Court ruled that publishing a work that ‘recounts for its readers precisely the plot details’ of a fictional work constitutes copyright infringement.”
In a statement published on its Facebook page on Monday, TSD said that it would reluctantly comply with the demand.
Basically what it all comes down to is if we post our Lucille Victim prediction and we’re right, AMC says they will sue us. Whether there are grounds for it or not is not the issue, it still costs money to defend. That is the way our justice system works. Would we have defenses? Sure. But it also costs money to mount that defense. If someone brings us a potential Lucille spoiler and we confirm it and it turns out accurate we could get sued. That doesn’t mean they’re right and we’re wrong, but like so many other situations in this world, they have the money and power and we do not. So we lose. In the past two years, AMC has filed several wrongful DMCA notices against us with full knowledge that we could not file counter-notices, hired investigators to intimidate our members, and threatened our local members with arrest, among other questionable acts. We’re also pretty sure they had something to do with the DOS attack on our site just before the finale last season. They have exhibited every quality of a bully pounding its chest. That sucks for us. It’s very disappointing to see the network that hosts our favorite show attack one of their biggest fan bases. Especially when they could have taken a more diplomatic approach that could have given them the same results.
Neither Wilson nor the people behind TSD would make themselves available for an interview.
However, it seems that TSD may have folded too quickly. The Season 7 premiere is expected to air this fall.
According to Mitch Stoltz, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a single “fact” from a fictional TV series probably can’t be protected by copyright law.
“Copyright probably doesn’t cover revealing a single fictional detail about a show,” he e-mailed Ars. “And copyright doesn’t apply to facts that are discovered without having access to the creative work. So if ‘The Spoiling Dead’ community deduced the identity of the ‘Lucille Victim’ by looking at aerial photos of the sets, public sightings of the actors, rumors, etc., without actually having seen the episode or the script, they didn’t infringe any copyright.”
However, he acknowledged that AMC “could force the group into expensive litigation.”
“Copyright law’s penalty provisions don’t require any proof of actual harm,” he added. “It means that a threat like AMC’s can deter passionate fans from talking about their favorite show simply by sending a threatening letter, even if the law is not really on AMC’s side.”