Hollywood Docket: Summit Sues to Identify Who Tweeted 'Breaking Dawn' Pics

Leaked images from the next installment of Twilight, Sylvester Stallone's boxing gloves from the first Rocky, and old photographs of Gene Kelly have all been subject to cease-and-desist letters in recent weeks. A round-up of what's happening on the intellectual property policing front:

  • We've already written that producers of Breaking Dawn are pleading with fans to stop posting images from the forthcoming film. A quick update here. Our previous post mentioned that Summit Entertainment didn't have any intention to sue, but in fact, ten days ago, the studio filed a lawsuit against ten John Does. The action was made so that Summit could serve subpoenas and identify anonymous individuals who were distributing photos on Twitter.
  • Last week, lawyers for Sylvester Stallone sent a C&D to a company, Profiles in History, intending to auction the actor's boxing gloves from the first Rocky. According to the letter, the items were not authentic. Stallone's camp is pressing the legal theory that the planned auction represents an unauthorized commercial exploitation of Stallone's right of publicity. "There is no First Amendment protection for brazen commercial exploitation of a celebrity's name for false advertizing purposes," writes Stallone's lawyers.

Are auctions that feature celebrity items illegal under publicity rights statutes? Not even a celebrity's death can seemingly shield an auctioneer from claims of trading on a famous name.

  • So says the trust that manages Gene Kelly images, which recently sent a C&D to an eBay vendor who was selling a photograph of the late actor on the website. The letter from Kelly's camp threatened a lawsuit for "any unauthorized items that incorporate the name, voice, signature, photograph, likeness and/or persona of Gene Kelly."

E-mail: eriqgardner@yahoo.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner