‘The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’ is formally being sued

It began off so nicely. A fan-made TikTok musical tribute to Netflix’s “Bridgerton,” heating up right into a lush suite of songs in an idea album with roses from the streamer. The romance blossomed with a record-setting exhibiting on the Grammy Awards.

However oh, how capricious love could be.

Netflix is suing the creators of “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” for copyright and trademark infringement following the challenge’s transfer to dwell, paid performances. In court docket papers filed Friday within the U.S. District Court docket within the District of Columbia, the streamer claims, “Defendants Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear and their companies (‘Barlow & Bear’) have taken valuable intellectual property from the Netflix original series Bridgerton to build an international brand for themselves.”

It started as love from afar. Barlow, an aspiring pop singer-songwriter, and Bear, a former baby prodigy with fairly a composing and efficiency résumé who counts Quincy Jones amongst her mentors, had been working collectively on one other musical challenge after they grew to become “Bridgerton” followers. Barlow posted a TikTok video in January 2021 pondering what it might be like if Netflix’s smash hit present (the streamer says it has been watched by 82 million households) had been a musical. Within the video, she sang a little bit of a music she and Bear had written alongside these traces, incorporating dialogue from the collection.

“It was inspired by a line of dialogue in the TV show that really inspired me, and it was basically poetry the way the dialogue is written, so I wrote the first song, ‘Ocean Away,’ and that’s how it came about,” Barlow advised Leisure Weekly that February, after the pair had generated 14 songs within the house of a month.

Then got here the meet cute: A swept-off-its-feet Netflix tweeted an excerpt of one of many songs, saying it was “absolutely blown away” by the work Barlow, Bear and firm had been as much as and providing the singers a “standing ovation.”

The entire affair unfolded within the public eye, with Instagram and TikTok posts monitoring the songs’ creation and even inviting enter from viewers throughout livestreams. By that September, their work had reportedly been seen 200 million occasions on TikTok. The eventual idea album made Billboard’s Prime 40 and hit No. 1 on iTunes — and have become the first-ever TikTok-generated challenge to win the Grammy for musical theater album. Barlow (now 20) and Bear (now 23) had been the youngest-ever nominees and winners within the class. How magical was their night time? Andrew Lloyd Webber tweeted about assembly them and “singalongs round the piano.” It appeared like an all-around love fest.

However oh, how love can flip to hate. And like so many amorous affairs, this one appears destined to finish in court docket.

Within the Friday submitting (as posted at Deadline), Netflix acknowledged, “On July 26, 2022, over Netflix’s repeated objections, Barlow & Bear staged a massive, for-profit stage show—entitled ‘The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical Album Live in Concert’—to a sold-out audience at the Kennedy Center, with tickets ranging up to $149 each and VIP packages. The live show featured over a dozen songs that copied verbatim dialogue, character traits and expression, and other elements from Bridgerton the series … Barlow & Bear misrepresented to the audience that they were using Netflix’s BRIDGERTON trademark ‘with Permission,’ while Netflix vigorously objected.”

The brouhaha incorporates all the weather of a steamy bodice-ripper: Ardour, guarantees, and allegations of deception and lies.

Within the go well with, Netflix asserts its “exclusive right to authorize derivative works based on the series” and notes that Barlow and Bear had been amongst many (“countless other fans”) posting tribute content material on social media.

“When asked directly, Netflix told Barlow & Bear, time and time again, that such works were not authorized,” the go well with continues. “Barlow & Bear chose to move forward with that knowledge and release an album recording, which they titled ‘The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical.’ At each step of the way, Barlow & Bear’s representatives repeatedly assured Netflix that they understood Netflix’s position and led Netflix to believe that Netflix would be consulted before Barlow & Bear took steps beyond streaming their album online in audio-only format … Barlow & Bear’s representations were false.”

As to these questioning why the streamer didn’t sue earlier, maybe when the album got here out, the lawsuit states: “Barlow & Bear’s attorneys have now taken the position that they somehow do not need a license because Netflix did not file this lawsuit sooner. That is not how copyright law works. Netflix is not required to sue every infringer. Rather, it can make its rights known—which it unambiguously, and repeatedly, did here.”

Moreover, the go well with asserts that, when the corporate discovered of the intent to create an album of the songs, “Netflix sought to advise them of a clear line: Netflix representatives stressed to Barlow & Bear’s representative that Netflix would not authorize and did not want them to engage in any live performances (e.g., performances of ‘The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’) or other derivative works that might compete with Netflix’s own planned live events” such because the streamer’s personal “The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience.”

Other than the Kennedy Heart efficiency, the musical has an “in concert” date lined up on the Royal Albert Corridor in September.

Netflix seeks the next: “Declaratory relief establishing Netflix’s rights … Preliminary and permanent injunctive relief … Damages available under [infringement statutes] … reasonable attorneys’ fees, costs of suit and interest … and … any and all such other and further relief as this Court shall deem just and proper.”

Barlow and Bear hadn’t responded to the go well with at publication time. The streamer, nonetheless, had extra to say, in a press release attributed to a Netflix spokesperson: “Netflix supports fan-generated content, but Barlow & Bear have taken this many steps further, seeking to create multiple revenue streams for themselves without formal permission to utilize the Bridgerton IP. We’ve tried hard to work with Barlow & Bear, and they have refused to cooperate. The creators, cast, writers and crew have poured their hearts and souls into Bridgerton, and we’re taking action to protect their rights.”

The present’s creator, Shonda Rimes, issued a press release of her personal: “There is so much joy in seeing audiences fall in love with Bridgerton and watching the creative ways they express their fandom. What started as a fun celebration by Barlow & Bear on social media has turned into the blatant taking of intellectual property solely for Barlow & Bear’s financial benefit. This property was created by Julia Quinn and brought to life on screen through the hard work of countless individuals. Just as Barlow & Bear would not allow others to appropriate their IP for profit, Netflix cannot stand by and allow Barlow & Bear to do the same with Bridgerton.”

And Julia Quinn, creator of the ebook collection on which the collection relies, mentioned, “Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear are wildly talented, and I was flattered and delighted when they began composing Bridgerton songs and sharing with other fans on TikTok. There is a difference, however, between composing on TikTok and recording and performing for commercial gain. I would hope that Barlow & Bear, who share my position as independent creative professionals, understand the need to protect other professionals’ intellectual property, including the characters and stories I created in the Bridgerton novels over twenty years ago.”