03.10.2022

Sony pictures sued over digital editing of scoreboards

Spider-man is scheduled to hit theaters worldwide in early may. But shortly before the premiere, production company columbia pictures got caught in the legal web: the plaintiffs accuse it of digitally substituting several ad panels for those of its marketing partners.

In a lawsuit filed wednesday in manhattan, sherwood 48 associates, which owns several buildings in new york’s times square, accuses columbia of deliberately tampering with the ads placed there. In a film trailer, and thus presumably in the film, a huge samsung ad has been replaced by an ad for the usa today newspaper. In addition, the retouchers had also damaged a scoreboard for the nbc television station.

Sherwood accuses columbia of using these edits to "irreparable damage" to have caused irreparable damage. Whoever advertises on these well-known buildings does not only want to reach the direct passers-by, but also relies on a further distribution of his pictures through photos in newspapers and magazines, through tv shows and films. That is why sherwood is now suing columbia for injunctive relief. In the event of success, this could have led to a delay in the film’s worldwide release, which was planned for the third of may.

Sherwood is also seeking damages for the trailers that have already aired, as well as a financial share of the profits generated by the edits. Apparently, one of the ads was deliberately replaced with an ad from the film’s sponsor, cingular wireless. Cingular has been advertising its cellular products in the u.S. For several days with spider-man commercials. Usa today, however, has already declared that it did not pay any money for the ad. They were simply asked by columbia for permission to use them.

No advertising for the competition

However, the replacement of the ad is not entirely coincidental: columbia pictures is owned by the japanese electronics giant sony. Advertising for the products of samsung’s competitors should therefore apparently not appear in the picture. Nbc, whose ads were also banned from the film, is also owned by sony competitor general electric.

Nbc’s scoreboards on broadway have already been affected by a similar image manipulation once before. Cbs retouched the ads from its new year’s eve broadcast two years ago. Sherwood also sued, but the case was dropped after a court settlement.

In the past, there have also been repeated legal disputes about the buildings and objects depicted in films. For example, the makers of batman faced a lawsuit because their movie hero drove through a landscape whose architect felt that his copyrights had been infringed upon. The film twelve monkeys was even stopped by the courts after it had already been in distribution for 28 days. The reason: a designer had spotted a chair in the film that looked similar to one of his designs.

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