These guys really don't like "Twilight."
First, they ripped on the teen vampire franchise with a raunchy parody film. Now they're suing the makers of "Twilight" for $500 million.
In a 219-page lawsuit filed May 28, Los Angeles-based Between the Lines says it was in talks with several major distributors to have the film released.
But then last June Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.'s Summit Entertainment sent a cease-and-desist letter alleging copyright and trademark infringement.
The distributors then revoked their offers to deal with Between the Lines, the company said in its lawsuit.
The parodists say their film falls under the "fair use" doctrine, which holds that derivative works that parodies are protected speech, arguing the law protects "separate or derivative works that may be related to, inspired by or comment upon the pop culture events that dominate the national Cineplex."
Between the Lines declined to comment further on the case.
Lions Gate representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
It's hardly the first time someone filmmakers have spoofed "Twilight." "Vampires Suck" in 2010 and "Breaking Wind" in 2012 both made fun of the recent phenomenon of teen-oriented vampire flicks.
Jonathan P. Steinsapir, a partner at Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP who specializes in intellectual property law, said a work of parody is protected if it comments on and makes fun of the original work.
On that score – and given the available facts – "Twiharder" likely falls under fair use, Steinsapir said. "If this is just lampooning 'Twilight' and other vampire films, this is clearly a fair use, and the courts usually give a lot of breathing room."
However, he said, the issue of damages is less clear.
With these kinds of cases it's difficult to prove damages, which would depend on whether or not the alleged cease-and-desist letter was actually responsible for the company losing distribution deals, he said.
The lawsuit was previously reported by The Wrap.