March 5, 2021

Dune’s New Logo Started Disappearing From Twitter Due To Copyright Claims, But No One Is Quite Sure Why

Late last week, Boing Boing reported that after the logo for Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming Dune movie that people have been obsessing over for decades (well, the idea of a new Dune movie, not Villeneuve’s version in particular), some people posted some photos of the launch event, showing a stage with an image and the logo behind whoever it is on stage. It looked something like this:

People seem very, very opinionated about the logo — in both good and bad ways. At the very least, it generated a lot of discussion. However, people started to notice that many of the Twitter accounts that posted the image had had it pulled down due to a DMCA takedown. And suddenly a bunch of Twitter accounts were looking like this:

It even got so crazy that one guy tried to recreate the logo from scratch to try to avoid a DMCA:

I’ve tried to replicate the Dune logo

— Steven Thomas (@SxDementia) January 29, 2020

That said, I can find a bunch of accounts showing the logo now (and a bunch more making parody/memes out of the background image and a similar font). However, what remains unclear is who is actually taking down the logo and under what basis. Many have assumed that it’s Legendary Entertainment, which produced the film, and/or Warner Bros., which is handling distribution. Still others have argued that it could be the Australian photographer, Leah Kennedy, whose otherworldly aerial image of sand dunes in Namibia appears to be the basis for the background in the original screenshot shown.

What’s even less clear is under what basis there would be to take down such an image. Yes, it’s possible that Warner/Legendary had a promotional plan that wasn’t set to launch just yet, but that’s not a legitimate reason to abuse copyright law to take down what are clearly fair use images of the logo in action. It’s also unclear why anyone thinks some crazy whac-a-mole over a logo is ever actually going to work. Copyright is a tool that can, and frequently is, used to take down content, but that doesn’t mean that it’s supposed to allow such blatant censorship, or that such efforts will ever be particularly effective.

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