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Netflix sues unofficial Bridgerton musical creators over live performances

The Grammy-award winning musical is being performed in concert in London

Barlow and Bear in artwork for The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical

It's a scandal worthy of Lady Whistledown herself - Netflix has sued the creators of the unofficial Bridgerton musical over live performances.

Based on the seminal streamed series of the same name, Emily Bear and Abigail Barlow's Grammy award-winning musical, which started life on TikTok, is due to be staged in London later this year, following a concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC earlier this month.

Netflix, who are also producing their own immersive Bridgerton experience, said in their suit this week that: "The live show featured over a dozen songs that copied verbatim dialogue, character traits and expression, and other elements from Bridgerton the series. It included dramatic portrayals of Bridgerton characters by Broadway actors, emoting through the performance of the songs that comprise the "musical"."

It has to be noted that unofficial musicals are no rarity - the likes of Friends, Game of Thrones and more have all been given musical tributes. But it seems the particular issue in this instance was that the stage version used the TV show's logo without permission, with show-themed merchandise also on sale.

Netflix's attorney explained: "Defendants Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear and their companies ("Barlow & 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. 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."

The series itself is based on Julia Quinn's series of novels, following a well-respected yet scandal-prone family in early 19th century England.

Quinn added: "Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear are wildly talented, and I was flattered and delighted when they began composing Bridgerton songs and sharing with other fans on TikTok. There is a difference, however, between composing on TikTok and recording and performing for commercial gain. I would hope that Barlow & Bear, who share my position as independent creative professionals, understand the need to protect other professionals' intellectual property, including the characters and stories I created in the Bridgerton novels over twenty years ago."

Netflix revealed that, before the live performance in Washington: "Netflix offered Barlow & Bear a license that would allow them to proceed with their scheduled live performances at the Kennedy Center and Royal Albert Hall, continue distributing their album, and perform their Bridgerton-inspired songs live as part of larger programs going forward." The pair were said to have refused the offer.

Speaking about their own immersive experience, Netflix said: "The Kennedy Center performance interfered with Netflix's long-announced offering of the Bridgerton Experience in Washington DC. It attracted Bridgerton fans who would have otherwise attended the Bridgerton Experience and created confusion as to whether Netflix had approved of Barlow & Bear's unauthorized derivative works."

They also claim that the Bridgerton brand faces "irreparable harm" due to the musical's prominence.

We will keep our eyes out for a response from Barlow and Bear.


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