Netflix Inc. on Friday sued the creators of an allegedly unauthorized musical stage production of its popular period drama Bridgerton, accusing them of copyright infringement after building demand for their copy on TikTok.
The lawsuit was filed against Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear in federal court in Washington, three days after a sold-out performance of “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” at that city’s Kennedy Center.
A lawyer for the defendants was unable to comment immediately as he was yet to review the complaint.
Based on Julia Quinn’s best-selling romance novels, Bridgerton attracted 82 million viewers in the first four weeks of the series debuting on Netflix, a record for the time. It was renewed for a second season and inspired a spin-off series and a live event, The Queen’s Ball, which took place in six cities.
Netflix said after Bridgerton was first released in December 2020, the defendants began posting about the series on TikTok, where they have 2.4 million followers, including creating songs based on characters, scenes, dialogue and plot points based.
The company said it repeatedly warned defendants to stop doing it, but they went ahead with a Grammy-winning album called The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical and their stage show.
“Barlow & Bear’s behavior began on social media but stretches ‘fanfiction’ well past its breaking point,” Netflix said. “It’s a blatant violation of intellectual property rights.”
This week, the Barlow and Bear musical played to a full audience at Washington’s Kennedy Center, where Netflix hosted its own live experience, Bridgerton.
The Kennedy Center show “attracted Bridgerton fans who would otherwise have attended the Bridgerton Experience and created confusion as to whether Netflix approved the unauthorized Barlow & Bear derivative works,” Netflix said in the lawsuit.
A performance in September is planned at the Royal Albert Hall in London, according to the lawsuit.
Series creator Shonda Rhimes said in a statement that while there’s “so much joy” in watching audiences fall in love with “Bridgerton” and find creative ways to express their appreciation, “it was still considered a fun one.” celebration of Barlow & Bear on social media has morphed into the blatant expropriation of intellectual property solely for the financial benefit of Barlow & Bear.”
Author Quinn added that she was “flattered and delighted” when Barlow and Bear began composing and sharing “Bridgerton” songs with their fellow fans on TikTok. “However, there is a difference between composing on TikTok and recording and performing for commercial purposes,” she said in a statement.
The lawsuit seeks to stop the alleged violations, plus unspecified damages.
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/netflix-sues-creators-alleged-bridgerton-knockoff-rcna40777 Netflix is suing creators of alleged “Bridgerton” fake