An online fan community for the AMC TV series The Walking Dead has been sent a cease and desist letter regarding the group’s intention to post a prediction about a crucial plot point in the show. The group made a post on Facebook explaining the situation. According to the post, AMC’s lawyer states that making a correct prediction about the show’s plot would be copyright infringement. The fan group is also accused of obtaining “copyright protected, trade secret information about the most critical plot information in the unreleased next season of The Walking Dead.” In response to this claim, the group stated, “We still aren’t sure where we supposedly made this claim because they did not identify where it was.”
TorrentFreak has received a copy of the letter sent to the fan group. It states:
AMC is aware that The Spoiling Dead Fans site is promoting your claim that you have received copyright protected, trade secret information about the most critical plot information in the unreleased next season of The Walking Dead.
You also state that you plan to distribute this purported highly confidential information despite your knowledge that such distribution, if the information is indeed accurate, is unauthorized and will greatly damage AMC, distributors of The Walking Dead as well as Walking Dead fans awaiting the new seasons’ release who wish to watch their favorite show unspoiled.
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. Specifically, in Twin Peaks Productions vs. Publications International, the Court ruled that publishing a work that ‘recount[s] for its readers precisely the plot details’ of a fictional work constitutes copyright infringement.
By advertising the illegal disclosure of intricate plot details of an unreleased episode of The Walking Dead without authorization, you will willfully and intentionally impair the commercial viability of the show and thus AMC’s ability and incentive to continue to produce creative works such as The Walking Dead.
In light of the above, we demand that you repudiate your intent to leak the ‘Lucille Victim’ by confirming that you will cease and desist from that illegal disclosure and/or assisting others in the illegal disclosure. Should you fail to do so, AMC will file a lawsuit against you to enjoin your harmful illegal activities and seek to obtain money damages and injunctive relief to address your conduct.
The letter cites a specific case which AMC’s lawyer believes sets a precedent that posting a spoiler is copyright infringement. The case involves the publishing of a guide to the TV show Twin Peaks, which included detailed plot summaries. The judge explained the reasoning as to why it was copyright infringement in that case, “Because the plot synopses were so detailed, and in fact lifted many sections verbatim from the original scripts, the court found that defendant copied a substantial amount of plaintiff’s original works.” TorrentFreak questions whether predicting a single plot point, like the Walking Dead fans were planning to do, is really comparable to the incredibly detailed plot summaries from that case.
However, even if the legal grounds are questionable, the fan group has decided to comply with AMC’s demands. Their Facebook post includes a statement that they will not post the spoilers as originally planned. The members of the group have stated they do not have the financial resources to put up a legal fight against AMC, and that they have families and careers to worry about.
Is correctly predicting a major plot point copyright infringement, or is AMC bullying fans? Leave your comments below.