Scurvy Little Spider

Imagine a dastardly supervillain who can nefariously alter the world’s appearance at will. No, it’s not a character from the upcoming Spider-Man. It’s the film’s distributor, Columbia Pictures, and its parent, Sony, according to one outdoor ad company.

In the tangled web of advertising and computer imaging, reality and make-believe, Sony and Columbia stand accused of a digital crime—in the Spider-Man trailer and print ads, it replaced a Samsung ad in Times Square with one for USA Today.

Sherwood 48 Associates, owner of Sherwood Outdoor and 2 Times Square, the building on which (in real life) the Samsung ad rests, has filed a lawsuit against Sony in federal court in the Southern District of New York. Among other things, the suit alleges unfair competition and violation of federal and state laws against deceptive advertising.

“The same thing happened during CBS’ broadcast of the millennium celebration, when they digitally removed an NBC ad on Sherwood’s building at 1 Times Square, and we were able to settle that,” says Anthony Costantini, one of Sherwood’s two attorneys in this suit. “Hopefully, we can do the same [this time] before the court hears it.”

A Columbia Pictures representative said the studio does not comment on pending litigation. David Manning, Columbia’s fake movie critic, could not be reached.