Fishers company battles Twitter for @jamesdean account

FISHERS, Ind. - A Fishers company is at the center of what could be a groundbreaking legal case involving the late actor James Dean.

Dean was born in Indiana and CMG Worldwide represents his estate. The issue at hand is whether or not people should be able to tweet in the name of deceased celebrities.

CMG Worldwide CEO Mark Roesler says his company is caught up in a legal battle with Twitter over who should own the handle @jamesdean.

"The ultimate person we're after is probably the John Doe. But we also have a problem with Twitter and that's why they're included in the complaint because they refuse to cooperate and give us the information we need or to shut this individual down," Roesler said.

The @jamesdean Twitter account has more than 8,000 followers and is managed by an unknown owner or owners. Roesler said he's spent more than a year trying to convince Twitter to shut down the account, but so far, the social media giant has refused.

Roesler has since filed suit against Twitter and the owner of the account alleging misappropriation of dean's publicity rights.

Twitter says it doesn't have a username reservation policy.

Meanwhile, legal experts said the case could set a precedent for the estates of other dead celebrities.

"If the people who have (the account) are just fans of James Dean aren't selling anything and just talking about James Dean on Twitter, then CMG probably does not have the right to take it away from them," said IU Law Professor Gerard Magliocca.

CMG Worldwide filed the complaint in Indiana seeking unspecified damages but the suit has now landed in federal court.
 

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