Late last year, Abrams Books issued a book centered around horror-punk icons Misfits. And the band aren’t happy about it. Scream With Me: The Enduring Legacy Of The Misfits is a 176-page tome filled with photos and quotes from personalities regarding the band’s contributions to punk and metal culture. They contend a significant amount of artwork the band members created for various records, shows and merchandise was used without permission.
The suit was filed by Misfits A.D., the company formed by original members Glenn Danzig and Jerry Only. The lawsuit contends the Misfits camp never gave the authors or Abrams permission to use Misfits’ official “Fiend Skull” logo, which adorns the cover and many pages of the book. Misfits A.D officially owns the registered trademark and exclusive worldwide rights to the logo.
A source close to the band says there are other disputes, as well. Only has identified historical artifacts that were loaned to Caroline Records in the mid-’90s that were never returned and now appear in the book. The items were intended as packaging for the MIsfits box set issued in 1996. Coincidentally, one of the co-authors of Scream With Me was a former employee of the Caroline label.
In a statement to World Intellectual Property Review (who first reported the story), Abrams’ attorneys said, “We are confident that the limited use of content that is alleged to be original to the Misfits in the Scream With Me book is well and within the parameters of fair use.” The statement also cited a 2006 court case involving a coffee-table book about the Grateful Dead. By citing that court’s discussion of “fair use” issues, Abrams felt it was within its rights to publish the material.
According to a source familiar with the complaint, Misfits A.D. are aware of the case that Abrams’ counsel cited to WIPR. In that case, Dorling Kindersley (DK) issued the title Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip, which was 480 pages in length and featured seven images of art owned by the Bill Graham Archives. After fee negotiations between the publisher and BGA fell apart, DK ran the images at a significantly reduced size.
As a result, the court ruled in favor of DK. The images’ inclusion constituted a negligible amount of space that didn’t significantly change the integrity of the book. According to the source, the Grateful Dead case Abrams cited is proving the band’s point. Scream With Me simply could not exist without the bulk of Misfits’ intellectual property in its pages.
The Misfits’ allure has only grown in stature since Danzig left the band in 1983. Only has kept the name alive in various lineups since 1995. In 2016, Riot Fest hosted the band’s long-awaited comeback with central members Danzig, Only and Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein playing with drummer Dave Lombardo and guitarist Acey Slade. This May, the original Misfits are slated to play to 80,000 people in Mexico City.