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The Satanic Temple's statue of Baphomet, seen at a rally in Little Rock, Ark. The organization says a statue in <em>Chilling Adventures of Sabrina</em> bears too close a likeness to its own work.
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The Satanic Temple's statue of Baphomet, seen at a rally in Little Rock, Ark. The organization says a statue in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina bears too close a likeness to its own work.
Credit: AP

Satanists Sue Netflix, Warner Bros. For $150M, Saying 'Sabrina' Copied Their Statue

Just months after a statue of Baphomet grabbed national headlines while briefly appearing outside the Arkansas State Capitol, the winged, goat-headed creature has stepped back into the spotlight — this time, taking its starring turn in the courts.

The Satanic Temple has sued Netflix and Warner Bros. in a New York federal court, alleging that the media giants lifted and misused its distinctive icon. The organization filed a complaint Thursday saying its copyrighted statue design, known as Baphomet with Children, appeared without its permission in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a new streaming series released on Netflix last month.

The temple claims that by doing so, the companies committed copyright infringement, violated its trademark and injured the organization's business reputation. All told, it is demanding relief on the order of more than $150 million.

"Among other things, TST [the Satanic Temple] designed and commissioned the TST Baphomet with Children to be a central part of its efforts to promote First Amendment values of separation of church and state and equal protection," the complaint explains. "Defendants' prominent use of this symbol as the central focal point of the school associated with evil, cannibalism and murder blurs and tarnishes the TST Baphomet with Children as a mark of TST."

When contacted for comment, Netflix referred NPR's request to Warner Bros. — which, in turn, declined to offer a statement.

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The Satanic Temple argument hinges largely on a side-by-side comparison of the two images. Both feature a young boy and girl gazing admiringly at the seated deity, which has two fingers raised to the sky as it stares straight ahead. What's more, the plaintiff notes that, unlike previous depictions, the Sabrina version uses "an exposed male chest, instead of exposed large voluptuous female breasts" — a characteristic the Satanic Temple claims to be its own original contribution.

Temple co-founder and spokesperson Lucien Greaves presented the two versions together in a tweet earlier this week "for purposes of comparison."

The statue may look familiar — and not just for Sabrina viewers.

Back in August, the Satanic Temple made a national splash with its protest of a Ten Commandments monument that had been installed on Arkansas State Capitol grounds earlier in the year. The temple — and other groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union — decried the move as violating the separation of church and state.

In reaction to the Ten Commandments monument, the temple hauled out its own 7 1/2-foot statue take up residence on the state grounds. And they held a rally to celebrate the short-lived installation.

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It came down after just a handful of hours.

Now, the Satanic Temple is girding for a new fight, saying the series has twisted its publicly espoused tenets — which it says call for "compassion and empathy," the "struggle for justice," and conforming beliefs to "one's best scientific understanding of the world," among other principles.

The series, on the other hand, implies "the monument stands for evil," the complaint states. And now, the temple is demanding redress in a trial by jury. [Copyright 2018 NPR]