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A New York-based holiday merchandise store is seeking millions of dollars in damages in a copyright infringement lawsuit against Terry Rozier, citing the Boston Celtics guard’s use of a classic horror movie character’s likeness on “Scary Terry” apparel, according to Sports Illustrated’s Michael McCann.
Fun World, a subsidiary of Easter Unlimited, owns the trademark for Ghost Face, which is a Halloween mask inspired by artist Edvard Munch’s 1893 painting “The Scream” and made famous by the 1996 film “Scream.” The movie franchise entered into a contractual license with Fun World for use of the mask. The company is suing Rozier for copyright and trademark infringement, counterfeiting and dilution by blurring, seeking up to $150,000 for each alleged violation and further damages, according to McCann.
At some point during the 2016-17 season, Rozier earned the nickname “Scary Terry”, an ode to both his explosiveness off the bench and a villainous character on Adult Swim’s “Rick and Morty.” The moniker gained notoriety following Rozier’s game-winning steal and dunk against the Indiana Pacers in December 2017 and went mainstream with his rise to prominence in Kyrie Irving’s absence last season.
Rozier liked the nickname, even if he didn’t know the “Rick and Morty” reference. According to The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, when Rozier’s representatives approached him with an apparel line bearing the nickname along with a cartoon drawing of the Celtics guard in a “Friday the 13th”-style mask, he asked them to switch the mask to Ghost Face from “Scream,” his favorite horror movie.
Rozier began selling Scary Terry T-shirts and sweatshirts through his own website and in association with Barstool Sports. He and teammates could be seen sporting the gear throughout Boston’s run to the Eastern Conference finals, and Rozier reportedly sold out of his initial clothing order in two days.
The only problem: Rozier didn’t clear the use of Ghost Face’s likeness with Fun World. According to McCann, a law professor at the University of New Hampshire, the New York-based store’s lawsuit alleges that Rozier’s clothing line will be confused with their own and the Celtics guard willingly tried to “dupe consumers into believing that they are buying goods legitimately associated with Fun World.”
I’m no legal expert, but let’s see Fun World’s lawyers produce a single person who purchased a Scary Terry shirt with knowledge that Fun World exists. It seems wild that anyone outside of Edvard Munch’s descendants would own the copyright to a Halloween knockoff of his 1893 painting, which was then re-popularized a century later by Wes Craven and parodied by Rozier another two decades later.
The parody is just one of several potential defenses that McCann laid out, including the fact that the mask is only a small part of Fun World’s full trademarked likeness, which features the cloak, a knife, the words “Ghost Face” and specific language about a blood-soaked red color scheme. Fun World did not include T-shirts and sweatshirts among its trademarked merchandise, and Rozier’s cartoon depiction of the so-called “Scream” mask might also be slightly different enough to avoid retribution.
Losing this lawsuit could serve as a serious temporary blow to Rozier, who will make $3 million this season. The 24-year-old would likely make up for those lost costs this coming summer, when he will be a restricted free agent reportedly seeking a long-term contract in the $20 million range annually.
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