HBO is denying down a sensational claim that the company is threatening to sue a 13-year-old Game of Thrones fan.
Multiple outlets reported how a UK teen received a dire warning that she faced legal action from the network for using the tagline “Winter is Coming” on her online artwork. Felicity Wilcox posted an image as part of an amateur art competition on the website Redbubble. Her parents say she’s autistic and have reportedly expressed outrage when she received the notice.
“Why are they picking on a 13-year-old girl?” Felicity’s father Jonathan told the UK Daily Mail. “Flic was really scared when the email mentioned the complaint and the possibility of a lawsuit … My initial reaction was shock, like, ‘What the hell is going on?’ It is just so heavy-handed for something so menial.”
But HBO says what really happened wasn’t nearly so Grinch-y.
“We love when fans are creative in their support of our programs,” the network said in a statement obtained by EW. “These works live online in many incarnations and in the past we have celebrated them by drawing attention to them. Many for-profit websites that sell products, such as Redbubble, take steps to avoid infringements as part of their standard operating procedure. To suggest a particular individual was targeted, or that HBO threatened legal action against her, is simply untrue.”
The complaint received by Wilcox shows it was issued by Redbubble, not by HBO. In the past, HBO has warned Redbubble and others not to sell unauthorized products that use their copyrighted materials. It’s unclear whether Wilcox’s art, in particular, prompted HBO to nudge Redbubble or, as the email suggests, if the company was being proactive. (Redbubble could not be reached for comment.) It certainly must be unnerving for a young person to receive such a legal-ish warning, but headlines making it sound like HBO is bullying kids over mere fan art are misleading.
We’d love to post Wilcox’s artwork by the way. Ironically, our photo team says we don’t have the copyright.