Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear are being sued by Netflix for hosting “for-profit” performances of their Grammy-winning Unofficial Bridgerton Musical.
In a lawsuit filed Friday in a DC District Court, the streamer alleges that the duo and their company Barlow & Bear took advantage of “valuable intellectual property from the Netflix original series.” Bridgerton” through a staged performance of the musical on July 26 at the Kennedy Center and a future performance for London’s Royal Albert Hall, as well as “their own line of Bridgerton-thematic merchandise.”
Bridgerton reflects the creative work and hard-earned success of hundreds of artists and Netflix contributors. “Netflix owns the exclusive right to create Bridgerton songs, musicals or other derivative works based on Bridgerton. Barlow & Bear cannot take that right – made valuable by the hard work of others – for itself, without permission. Yet that is exactly what they have done.”
The suit states that the songwriting duo did this despite repeated talks with Netflix that their works were “unauthorized.” Netflix calls the album and Barlow and Bear’s performances a “blatant infringement of intellectual property rights” in an effort to “build itself an international brand.”
“At every step, Barlow & Bear representatives repeatedly assured Netflix that they understood Netflix’s position and made Netflix believe that Netflix would be consulted before Barlow & Bear took steps beyond streaming their album online in audio only. format. The Barlow & Bear agent said they had no interest in meddling with Netflix’s rights or being known only as the “Bridgerton girls.’
“Barlow & Bear’s performances were fake,” it continues. “Despite their assurances to the contrary, Barlow & Bear now claim that carte blanche permission to take advantage of Netflix’s protected intellectual property in any way they see fit.”
In the lawsuit, Netflix admits that Bear and Barlow were among the “countless other fans inspired by the series” who began posting music compositions based on the show’s characters, dialogue, and plot after the first season’s release in December. social media platforms such as TikTok. 2020. But, the streamer says, their live show featured content “literally” taken from the series and performed in front of a “sold out audience at the Kennedy Center,” where tickets ranged up to $149 in addition to VIP packages.
“The show featured more than a dozen songs that incorporated verbatim dialogue, character traits and expression, and other elements of Bridgerton the series. It included dramatic images of Bridgerton characters by Broadway actors, moved by the performance of the numbers that make up the ‘musical’, says the suit. “During the performance, Barlow & Bear misrepresented to the public that they were using Netflix’s BRIDGERTON trademark ‘with permission’, while Netflix strongly objected.”
In response to the suit, Netflix, producer Shonda Rhimes and Bridgerton Author Julia Quinn has released all statements, with a spokesperson for the streamer stating that it “supports fan-generated content, but Barlow & Bear have taken so many steps forward, trying to create multiple revenue streams for themselves without formal permission to Bridgerton I P.”
The statement goes on to repeat the language in the submission. “We have tried hard to work with Barlow & Bear, but they have refused to cooperate. The makers, cast, writers and crew have put their heart and soul into Bridgertonand we are taking action to protect their rights.”
Rhimes also celebrated the outpouring of fan content that has come after the show’s December 2020 debut, but states that Barlow and Bear have turned “celebration” into the “blatant taking” of IP.
“It’s so fun to watch the public fall in love with Bridgerton and look at the creative ways they express their fandom,” Rhimes said in her 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. This property was created by Julia Quinn and brought to life on screen through the hard work of countless individuals. 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.”
Quinn calls the duo “insanely talented” in her own statement, but states that there is “a difference” between a TikTok composition and “performing for commercial gain”.
“Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear are incredibly talented, and I was flattered and delighted when they started composing Bridgerton songs and sharing them with other fans on TikTok,” Quinn’s post reads. “However, there is a difference between composing on TikTok and recording and performing for commercial gain. I hope that Barlow & Bear, who shares my position as independent creative professionals, understand the need to protect the intellectual property of other professionals, including the characters and stories I Bridgerton novels more than twenty years ago.”
In April, the duo won the Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album in 2022 and late last year the duo performed “Ocean Away,” a song from their music album based on Bridgerton next to Darren Criss at the Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary Concert. Their music became more popular in 2021, after they posted a collection of music video performances and compositions on TikTok, including an official Netflix Twitter account. tweeted in January 2021.
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to representatives of Bear and Barlow for comment.