The suit sounds petty, until it doesn’t.
Chooseco, the publisher behind the popular series of “Choose Your Own Adventure” children’s books has filed suit against Netflix. Of course the lawsuit has to do with Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, which brings the “Choose Your Own Adventure” format to video.
Bandersnatch allows the viewer to make decisions for the protagonist, which will change the outcome of the story, providing several different endings based upon what the viewer chooses. This is the same format employed in the children’s books produced by Chooseco. The format however is far from exclusive to Chooseco. There have been far too many video games to count that utilize the same ability for users to choose their own adventures.
Indeed, upon hearing of this lawsuit, the first thoughts should be of how petty this sounds. Hearing Chooseco’s argument doesn’t help assuage those feelings.
“The use of Choose Your Own Adventure in association with such graphic content is likely to cause significant damage, impacting our book sales and affecting our ability to work with licensing partners in the future,” Shannon Gilligan, co-founder and publisher of Chooseco, said in a statement, “We would prefer not to resort to litigation, but given the damage that we will suffer as a result of the use of our mark we’ve been left with no other option.”
With Bandersnatch being such a newsworthy and popular addition to the very profitable Netflix, it’s not very surprising to hear that Chooseco would want a piece of the action. However the suit goes on to detail that in 2016 Chooseco and Netflix began licensing negotiations in hopes of creating a series of “Choose Your Own Adventure” episodes for Netflix. The licensing agreement never occurred.
If it’s true that Netflix and Chooseco had been previously working towards a deal, it sounds less like a petty lawsuit by the publisher. Instead, it begins to sound more like Netflix chose not to license Chooseco’s product, and instead use their method for themselves, while cutting the publisher out of it.