Twitter fight over James Dean pits online expression against dead celebrity rights


James Dean crashed his Porsche and died nearly 60 years ago, but the “Rebel Without a Cause” star is still causing trouble today — this time over social media. A recent lawsuit in Indiana pits the licensing company CMG against Twitter and an unknown rebel who runs the @JamesDean account.

The @JamesDean account, which began in 2009 and now has over 8,000 followers, is a fan tribute that offers facts, quotes and pictures. Here’s a sample screenshot from a year ago:

Screen Shot James Dean

The licensing company now wants to put a stop to all this. In its complaint, via the Hollywood Reporter, CMG demands that Twitter identify whoever is behind @JamesDean. The company also makes a laundry list of civil and criminal complaints, including trademark infringement and conversion.

So far, Twitter is refusing to play ball. In response to an email complaint from CMG last year, Twitter wrote: “We’ve researched the reported…

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