Netflix is suing Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, the duo behind The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical about copyright infringement, as first reported by Deadline. The streaming giant filed the complaint in a Washington, DC district court just days after Barlow and Bear dedicated a live, sold-out show to their Bridgerton-inspired album.
After BridgertonBarlow and Bear began making music based on the Netflix original series in 2020 and promoted the pursuit on TikTok, where it quickly became popular. With fans asking for more content, Barlow and Bear soon had enough to make a 15-song album that won a Grammy in April, a first for music sourced from TikTok. On July 26, Barlow and Bear held a concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, featuring live performances and music from the National Symphony Orchestra.
In his complaint obtained by DeadlineNetflix claims that Barlow and Bear’s content “goes far beyond the breaking point” and that it is a “blatant infringement of intellectual property rights”. praised the work of Barlow and Bear himself, Netflix claims it has repeatedly told the couple that Bridgerton-inspired compositions “were” no authority.”
Netflix claims that the live unofficial Bridgerton 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 perform live without a problem.
“Barlow & Bear had no license, approval or authorization to exploit Bridgerton’s intellectual property in connection with Kennedy Center’s performance,” Netflix said. “And to the extent that Barlow & Bear once claimed to believe they had any such license, approval or authorization – despite Netflix’s clear statements to the contrary – it has now been unequivocally revoked.”
Netflix further claims that Barlow and Bear explicitly de Bridgerton brand during his show, and “attracted Bridgerton fans who would otherwise have attended the Bridgerton Experience”, Netflix’s own Bridgertonthemed event held throughout the year in six different cities. Barlow and Bear currently have plans to perform with the BBC Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in the UK in September.
“Netflix supports fan-generated content, but Barlow & Bear has taken so many steps further by creating multiple revenue streams for itself without formal permission to use the Bridgerton IP. [intellectual property]Netflix said in a statement. “We have tried hard to work with Barlow & Bear, but they have refused to cooperate. The creators, cast, writers and crew have poured their hearts and souls into Bridgerton and we are taking action to protect their rights.”
Julia Quinn, the author behind the Bridgerton book series says she was “flattered and elated” when Barlow and Bear started making TikToks based on the concept. “However, there is a difference between composing on TikTok and recording and performing for commercial gain,” Quinn says. “I hope that Barlow & Bear, who share my position as independent creative professionals, understand the need to protect the intellectual property of other professionals, including the characters and stories I created in the Bridgerton novels over twenty years ago. “
Shonda Rhimes, the producer of the Bridgerton Netflix series has issued a separate statement. “What started as a fun party by Barlow & Bear on social media has turned into a blatant takeover of intellectual property solely for the financial benefit of Barlow & Bear,” adds Rhimes. “Just as Barlow & Bear wouldn’t allow others to use their IP for profit, Netflix can’t watch and allow Barlow & Bear to do the same with Bridgerton.”
Barlow and Bear did not immediately respond to The edge‘s request for comment.