Following a sold-out performance, Netflix sues the makers of The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical

Following a sold-out performance, Netflix sues the makers of The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical

According to Deadline, Netflix is suing Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, the creators of The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical, for copyright infringement. The case was filed in a Washington, DC district court two days after Barlow and Bear performed a live, sold-out event in support of their Bridgerton-inspired record.

Following Bridgerton’s premiere in 2020, Barlow and Bear started composing music based on the Netflix original series and marketing it on TikTok, where it swiftly gained popularity. As additional material was demanded by fans, Barlow and Bear eventually had enough to compile a 15-song album, which went on to win a Grammy in April, a first for music originating on TikTok. Barlow and Bear performed in the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC on July 26th, with live performances and music by the National Symphony Orchestra.

Netflix claims in a lawsuit received by Deadline that Barlow and Bear’s video “stretches ‘fan fiction’ far beyond its breaking point” and is a “blatant violation of intellectual property rights.” Despite appreciating Barlow and Bear’s work, Netflix alleges it warned them twice that Bridgerton-inspired songs “were not approved.”

Netflix claims that the live Unofficial Bridgerton concert was also not allowed by the corporation and that Barlow and Bear “refused” to negotiate a license that would enable them to freely distribute their album and organize live performances.

According to Netflix, Barlow and Bear clearly exploited the Bridgerton brand throughout their concert, and “attracted Bridgerton enthusiasts who would have otherwise attended the Bridgerton Experience,” Netflix’s own Bridgerton-themed event held in six different locations throughout the year. Barlow and Bear are now scheduled to play with the BBC Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in the United Kingdom in September.

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The author of the Bridgerton book series, Julia Quinn, says she was “flattered and happy” when Barlow and Bear initially began making TikToks based on the premise. “However, there is a distinction between writing on TikTok and recording and performing for commercial benefit,” Quinn explains. “I trust that Barlow & Bear, who share my position as independent creative professionals, recognize the need of protecting the intellectual property of other professionals, including the characters and tales I developed in the Bridgerton books over two decades ago.”

Shonda Rhimes, the producer of the Netflix series Bridgerton, released a different statement. “What began as a joyful social media celebration by Barlow & Bear has degenerated into the brazen appropriation of intellectual property purely for Barlow & Bear’s commercial profit,” Rhimes says. “Just as Barlow & Bear would not allow others to benefit off their intellectual property, Netflix cannot sit back and let Barlow & Bear do the same with Bridgerton.”

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