Organized Satanists have claimed in a new federal lawsuit that Netflix and Warner Bros. Television have illegally trod upon its copyright of a unique version of the occult deity Baphomet, which is used in the new series “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.”
According to the complaint filed Thursday by the The Satanic Temple in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the use of the satanic symbol is “a textbook example … that copyright law protects unique expressions, but not the ideas themselves.”
Baphomet, as the complaint notes, is a historical deity with its roots in accusations of devil worship against the Crusades-era Knights Templar. The creature is traditionally a composite of various religious imagery, with the head of a goat and the body of a woman associated with a figure from Jewish mysticism.
At issue in the lawsuit is the version of the occult figure The Satanic Temple says is its intellectual property. This Baphomet with Children involves children at its side, wearing specific clothing, with the figure itself having an exposed male chest, rather than the traditional “exposed large voluptuous female breasts.” The complaint notes that traditional expressions of Baphomet depict the deity as “hermaphroditic.”
The group takes issue not just with the Netflix series’ use of the image, but with how it is used. According to the complaint, the Baphomet statute is featured prominently throughout as being associated with the evil antagonists of the show. This, the complaint alleges, is “in stark contrast” to the tenets and beliefs of The Satanic Temple, resulting in a false and defamatory depiction of the group.
“TST does not promote evil and instead holds to the basic principle that undue suffering is bad, and that which reduces suffering is good,” the complaint explains, adding: “Defendants misappropriated the TST Baphomet Children in ways implying that the monument stands for evil. Among other morally repugnant actions, the Sabrina Series’ evil antagonists engage in cannibalism and forced-worship of a patriarchal deity.”
The complaint claims federal copyright infringement and false designation, as well as injury to business reputation under New York law. The organization seeks $50 million in potential damages.
Name attorney Bruce Lederman of the New York-based business law and real estate law boutique D’Agostino, Levine, Landesman & Lederman represents the organization. He did not immediately return a request for comment.
A Netflix spokesman referred a request for comment to WB, the production company, which declined to comment.