Netflix is suing Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, the duo behind Bridgerton’s Unofficial Musical on copyright infringement, as first reported by Deadline. The streaming giant filed the suit in a Washington, D.C., district court just days after Barlow and Bear hosted a sold-out live show dedicated to their Bridgerton-inspired album.
After BridgertonIn 2020, Barlow and Bear began creating music based on the Netflix original series and promoting the effort on TikTok, where it quickly gained popularity. With fans begging for more content, Barlow and Bear quickly had enough to create a 15-song album that won a Grammy in April, a first for music sourced from TikTok. On July 26, Barlow and Bear performed a concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., featuring live performances and music from the National Symphony Orchestra.
In his complaint obtained by Deadline, Netflix alleges that the Barlow and Bear content “extends ‘fan fiction’ far beyond its breaking point” and is a “gross violation of intellectual property rights”. Despite praising the work of Barlow and Bear himself, Netflix claims to have repeatedly told the pair that Bridgerton-inspired compositions “were not authorized.”
Netflix alleges that the live Unofficial Bridgerton the performance was also not approved by the company, and that Barlow and Bear “refused” to negotiate a license that would allow them to distribute their album and hold live performances without issue.
“Barlow & Bear had no license, endorsement, or permission to exploit Bridgerton’s intellectual property in connection with the Kennedy Center performance,” Netflix says. “And to the extent that Barlow & Bear has ever claimed to believe they had any such license, endorsement or authorization – despite Netflix’s clear statements to the contrary – it has now been unequivocally revoked.”
Netflix goes on to claim that Barlow and Bear explicitly used the Bridgerton brand during his show, and “attracted Bridgerton fans who would have otherwise attended the Bridgerton Experience”, Netflix’s own Bridgerton-thematic event that it organizes in six different cities throughout the year. Barlow and Bear are currently planning to perform alongside the BBC Orchestra at the UK’s Royal Albert Hall in September.
“Netflix supports fan-generated content, but Barlow & Bear have gone further, seeking to create multiple revenue streams for themselves without formal permission to use the Bridgerton IP. [intellectual property]”, Netflix said in a statement. “We went to great lengths to work with Barlow & Bear, and they refused to cooperate. The creators, cast, writers and crew gave heart and soul to Bridgerton, and we take steps to protect their rights.
Julia Quinn, the author behind the Bridgerton The book series says it was “flattered and thrilled” when Barlow and Bear started creating TikToks based on the concept initially. “There is a difference, however, between composing on TikTok and recording and performing for commercial purposes,” Quinn says. “I hope Barlow & Bear, who share my position as independent creative professionals, will understand the need to protect the intellectual property of other professionals, including the characters and stories I have created in Bridgerton’s novels he over twenty years ago.”
Shonda Rhimes, producer of Bridgerton The Netflix series released a separate statement. “What started as a fun celebration by Barlow & Bear on social media has turned into a blatant grab of intellectual property solely for Barlow & Bear’s financial benefit,” adds Rhimes. “Just as Barlow & Bear would not allow others to appropriate their intellectual property for profit, Netflix cannot sit idly by and allow Barlow & Bear to do the same with Bridgerton.”
Barlow and Bear did not immediately respond to The edgerequest for comment.
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