A scandal worthy of Lady Whistledown’s poisoned pen. On Friday, Netflix filed a lawsuit against the creators of The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical for copyright infringement.
In the court papers, which were filed in a Washington DC District Court, the streamer alleges duo Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear “have taken valuable intellectual property from the Netflix original series Bridgerton to build an international brand for themselves.”
“Bridgerton reflects the creative work and hard-earned success of hundreds of artists and Netflix employees,” the court filing reads. “Netflix owns the exclusive right to create Bridgerton songs, musicals, or any other derivative works based on Bridgerton. Barlow & Bear cannot take that right — made valuable by others’ hard work — for themselves, without permission. Yet that is exactly what they have done.”
Netflix was initially supportive when the Bridgerton-inspired musical went viral on TikTok, resulting in a studio recording that won the 2022 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album. However, the legal issues seem to stem from Barlow and Bear staging live performances of their work, including a concert at Washington DC’s Kennedy Center where tickets cost up to $149 as well as an upcoming date at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Netflix is also perturbed that the creators have released their own merch associated with the show.
Both producer Shonda Rhimes and Bridgerton author Julia Quinn are both supportive of the lawsuit, with Rhimes stating, “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.” Quinn added, “I would hope that Barlow & Bear, who share my position as independent creative professionals, understand the need to protect other professionals’ intellectual property.”