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Netflix sues creators of Bridgerton Musical for copyright infringement

Netflix sues creators of Bridgerton Musical for copyright infringement

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Netflix has sued the creators of The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical, a musical spin off of Netflix's alternate history drama Bridgerton. Reuters reported that Netflix is suing its creators, Abigail Barlow (pictured left) and Emily Bear (pictured right), on the grounds of copyright infringement, after repeatedly warning them.

Netflix said: "Barlow and Bear's conduct began on social media, but stretches 'fan fiction' well past its breaking point. It is blatant infringement of intellectual property rights."

Additionally, Netflix claimed that the musical "attracted Bridgerton fans who would have otherwise attended the Bridgerton experience", an immersive experience hosted by Netflix across America. 

Barlow began posting musical spinoffs of Netflix's Bridgerton on TikTok since January last year. Titled "What if Bridgerton was a musical?", Barlow posted a multipart series of the spinoff, where its top liked video garnered over 1.9 million views at the time of writing. She then collaborated with American music producer Bear, where they released a 15 song album September last year. The album was made available on Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and Deezer. Bridgerton's author, Julia Quinn, also showed her support for the duo, the New York Times reported.

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Subsequently, the album won Bear and Barlow a Grammy this year, for the best musical theater album at the 64th GRAMMY Awards. Last October, the duo performed at the Kennedy Center's 50th Anniversary concert, and collaborated with Grammy nominee Andrew Lloyd Webber in December for a "Cinderella/Bridgerton" mashup.

According to Reuters, the lawsuit was filed following the duo's sold out live performance of The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical at the Kennedy Center on 26 July. Meanwhile, Julia Quinn, author of the Bridgeton books said: "There is a difference, however, between composing on TikTok and recording and performing for commercial gain.

Meanwhile, Reuters also reported that series creator Shonda Rhimes said that "while there is so much joy in seeing audiences fall in love with Bridgerton and find creative ways to express their appreciation, what started as a fun celebration by Barlow and Bear on social media has turned into the blatant taking of intellectual property solely for Barlow and Bear's financial benefit." Additionally, Barlow and Bear have planned another live version of the musical in September at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Netflix's Bridgerton was released in December 2020, which tells the tale of eight siblings looking for love and happiness in the London high society. It quickly shot up the Top 10 ranking in the Singapore last year. Due to the overwhelming response to the series, Netflix released season two this March, and is planning to release season three soon.  Previously, to promote the series in Singapore, Netflix Singapore took to its Instagram account to illustrate the characters in Bridgerton as different teas - a product England is famous for - Singaporeans can find at the kopitiam (coffee shop). The localised marketing stunt included tongue-in-cheek descriptions for the characters.

Related articles:
Which 'Bridgerton' teh do you fancy? Asks Netflix SG in social post

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