Can images of deities be copyrighted? Apparently they can.
Many of you have no doubt heard of the lawsuit that is being proposed by The Satanic Temple (TST), over copyrights that have allegedly been infringed upon by Netflix and the creative producers of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. While the likelihood of the entire series being pulled from Netflix is quite small, the claims of copyright infringement that TST has put against creators of the show are legitimate according to the laws. One thing is for sure. When witches appear in the media it stirs up all kinds of feelings.
Image of Comparison of Baphomet Statues, @LucienGreaves
The Church of Satan (CoS) to be distinguished from TST. Published an article on Nov. 9th, clarifying their place as a separate religious organization from TST, “a political activist group that has nothing to do with us.” Full Article Here. The CoS and TST are often confused by the public and thought of as one and the same, however they are two distinct entities with different missions and philosophies.
The article describes the various renditions of the figure, Baphomet, who represents the synthesis of opposites, the most popular of which by Eliphas Levi is part of the public domain. They describe his representation which displays both male and female physical attributes that are lacking in TST’s solely masculine interpretation. Some claim that this has effectively created another patriarchal counterpart to the God of the Christians, while TST claim’s that the female breasts were removed, and the erect phallus covered so that the statue could be displayed on public property. The latter seems like the more likely explanation considering the statue’s main purpose. To blatantly bring attention to the separation of church and state when Christian monuments are erected on government property.
La Clef de Magie Noire, Stanislas Guaita
Satanists in the Media
The founding father of the Church of Satan, Anton Szandor LaVey, was also recently portrayed in an episode of American Horror Story Apocalypse. This raised some eyebrows as the Church’s founder is shown conducting a ritual human sacrifice. Later episodes show a Black Mass using symbols and ritual dress used by the CoS, during which another two ritual murders are carried out. This is a more serious example of the misrepresentation of Satanists in the media that is being talked about. The Satanic Temple is also concerned about the misrepresentation of its organization and its members in the media in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, as mentioned in their claim. In addition to demanding punitive damages that may reach $50 million, they have ordered as cease and desist on any and all uses of the image of the Baphomet statue in the show and its advertising.In another article from November 2nd, 2018, Peter H. Gilmore, describes the occurrences of past waves of Satanism appearing in the media. Parodies of Satanism have appeared in fiction, films and television shows since the early 20th century. Just like the Satanic Panic of the 80s and 90s, this spotlight on Satanism seems to coincide with times of tension and divisiveness in society. His article cites numerous instances of the fictional representation of Satanists in the entertainment industry. Full article here.
Rights to Intellectual and Creative Property
While TST has every right to protect its intellectual property, Lucien Greaves, spokesperson and co-founder of the political activist organization compares it to the misrepresentation of other religious groups such as Muslims and Jews. This is not a matter of discrimination or the misrepresentation of a religion and should not be presented as such. If any religious organization should weigh in it should be the CoS, who seem to be looking down upon the whole mess with disdain.
Although the statue of Baphomet in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is not an exact replica; it does have enough details that the accusations of plagiarism are undeniable. Whether knowingly or unknowingly the rights of TST were infringed upon in regards to their property. The statute that belongs to TST, by artist Mark Porter, was created with two children looking up at the figure. This is the most unique and obvious sign that this is the same sculpture that belongs to TST. There are no other previous depictions containing such figures, and the original representation of the goat-headed figure makes accusations of its replication undeniable.