On Friday, Netflix Inc sued the creators of an alleged unauthorized musical production of its popular period drama “Bridgerton”, accusing them of copyright infringement after creating a demand for their infringement on TikTok.
The lawsuit was filed against Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear in federal court in Washington, DC, three days after a sold-out performance of “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” at the Kennedy Center in that city.
A lawyer for the defendants made no immediate comment, having yet to review the complaint.
“Bridgerton,” based on the bestselling romance novels by Julia Quinn, drew 82 million viewers in the first four weeks of the series’ Netflix debut, a record at the time. It was renewed for a second season and inspired a spin-off series and live event, “The Queen’s Ball”, held in six cities.
Netflix said that after “Bridgerton” was first released in December 2020, the defendants began posting information about the series on TikTok, where they have 2.4 million subscribers, including creating songs based on characters, scenes, dialogues and plot points.
The company said it repeatedly warned the defendants to quit, but they followed up with an album called The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical, which won a Grammy Award, and their stage show.
“The Barlow & Bear ride started on social media, but expands ‘fan fiction’ far past its breaking point,” Netflix said. “This is a gross violation of intellectual property rights.”
This week, the Barlow and Bear musical played to a sold-out crowd at the Kennedy Center in Washington, where Netflix was hosting its own live Bridgerton Experience.
The Kennedy Center show “attracted Bridgerton fans who would otherwise have witnessed the Bridgerton Experience and caused confusion about whether Netflix had approved unauthorized derivative works of Barlow & Bear,” Netflix said in the court case.
A performance in September is scheduled at the Royal Albert Hall in London, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks to stop the alleged violations, as well as unspecified damages.