Netflix sues creators of alleged Bridgerton knockoff on TikTok

Published 30 Jul, 2022 04:42pm

The complaint was filed against Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear three days after a sold-out performance of “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical”.

<p>Photo: Bridgerton /Instagram</p>

Photo: Bridgerton /Instagram

Netflix on Friday sued the creators of an alleged unauthorised musical stage production of its popular period drama Bridgerton, accusing them of copyright infringement after building demand for their knockoff on TikTok.

The complaint was filed against Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear in the federal court in Washington, DC, three days after a sold-out performance of “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” in that city’s Kennedy Center.

@abigailbarlowww

LONDON! Barlow & Bear are so excited to announce The Unofficial Musical LIVE in Concert at Royal Albert Hall this September! Get your tickets at www.royalalberthall.com💜✨#bridgertonmusical

♬ original sound - Abigail Barlow

A lawyer for the defendants had no immediate comment, having yet to review the complaint.

Bridgerton, based on Julia Quinn’s bestselling romance novels, attracted 82 million viewers in the first four weeks of the series’ debut on Netflix, 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,” hosted in six cities.

Netflix said after Bridgerton was first released in December 2020, the defendants started posting about the series to TikTok, where they have 2.4 million followers, including creating songs based on characters, scenes, dialogue and plot points.

The company said it warned the defendants repeatedly to stop, but they ploughed ahead with an album titled The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical, which won a Grammy award, and their stage show.

@emilythebear

last one but I still can’t comprehend what happened Sunday #bridgertonmusical

♬ original sound - Emily Bear

“Barlow & Bear’s conduct began on social media, but stretches ‘fan fiction’ well past its breaking point,” Netflix said. “It is blatant infringement of intellectual property rights.”

This week, Barlow and Bear’s musical was performed in front of 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 have otherwise attended the Bridgerton Experience and created confusion as to whether Netflix had approved of Barlow & Bear’s unauthorised derivative works,” Netflix said in the lawsuit.

A September performance is planned for Royal Albert Hall in London, the suit claims.

The lawsuit seeks to stop the alleged infringements, plus unspecified damages.