“What started as a fun tribute on social media has turned into the blatant taking of intellectual property solely for financial gain.” Netflix has sued the duo behind the 2022 Grammy-winning project The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical, based on songs from the platform's hit period series.
For and against Rosalía's 'tiktokero' concert and the empire of the camera on stage
The producer of this and phenomena like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhymes, and the author of the literary saga of The Bridgertons, Julia Quinn, have spoiled the intentions of Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, singer and songwriter of the unofficial album.
It all started on TikTok. Barlow uploaded a video in January 2021 in which he sang a short verse inspired by the series and asked, "What if Bridgerton was a musical?" Such was the reception that the test ended up becoming an album of 15 songs that won a Grammy in the category of musical theater and that even Netflix promoted on its social networks.
Absolutely blown away by the Bridgerton musical playing out on TikTok
—Netflix (@netflix) January 13, 2021
In the lawsuit to which several US media have had access, Quinn says she was "flattered and delighted" when Barlow and Bear turned the series into a viral musical phenomenon. “However, there is a difference between composing on TikTok and recording and performing for commercial purposes,” she says. The author refers to the show that the two artists performed last Friday at the Kennedy Center in New York – with tickets of up to 150 euros – and with which they intend to reach the Royal Albert Hall in London.
"I hope that Barlow and Bear, who share my position as independent creative professionals, understand the need to protect intellectual property, including the characters and stories that I created in the Bridgerton novels over twenty years ago," the writer said. "Just as Barlow and Bear would not allow others to appropriate their intellectual property for profit, Netflix cannot sit idly by and allow them to do the same to Bridgerton," Shonda Rhymes said.
According to Netflix, The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical "stretches fanfiction far beyond its limits" and is a "blatant violation of intellectual property rights." He also notes that the duo were warned that they were not authorized to use the show's trademark and that the duo refused to negotiate a license to distribute the disc for use in live shows. The reason is that it could conflict with Netflix's own events such as The Queen's Ball: A Bridgerton Experience, a kind of theme park with actors, gala costumes and live music. The creators, cast, writers and crew have poured their hearts and souls into Bridgerton, and we are taking steps to protect their rights.
For their part, in an interview with The Times after winning the Grammy, last April, the two artists said that Netflix had given their lawyers the green light to turn their songs into an album. But when asked if it was possible for the musical to be performed live in the future, Bear replied that "it's a little bit out of our hands because we don't have the intellectual property."
The platform denounces them for four crimes, including the violation of intellectual property and the improper use of the registered trademark.