February 8, 2014 marked James Dean’s would-be 83rd birthday. Although he is not alive today, Dean’s legacy lives on in several ways, including in a Twitter account run by fans. CMG Worldwide, which controls commercial estates for numerous deceased celebrities, including Dean, isn’t a fan of the account and wants it to be deleted. CMG has gone as far as to sue Twitter over the matter.
CMG claims that the fan account causes damages to the Dean estate, among other violations like false endorsement and trademark infringement. CMG president Mark Roesler told The Hollywood Reporter that CMG has asked Twitter to shut down the account, @JamesDean, for over a year, saying the account violates Twitter’s “parody policy,” in which Twitter explicitly outlines its specific rules for parody, newsfeed, commentary and fan accounts. The policy requires that Twitter avatars not be the subject’s exact trademark or logo and that the account name not match the subject’s exactly. It also requires that parody accounts clearly state in the bio that they are not official.
When Twitter refused, however, to comply with the management firm’s demands to take down the account, CMG took the issue to court in Indiana, a state known for favoring celebrities’ publicity rights. CMG is also suing the fan account owner for damages.
James Dean was an American actor and an iconic symbol of teenage disappointment and disillusion. Young Americans identified with him after his role in movies like Rebel Without a Cause and East of Eden. Dean was someone people could relate to in the movies and in life, and his estate still brings in millions each year.
Dean’s fan account, which is controlled by unknown users, has tweeted over 2,000 times and has more than 8,000 followers.