Netflix Sues Creators of ‘The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’

Few were left unaffected by the debut season of the Netflix TV series Bridgerton. The show, a Regency romance based on the novels of author Julia Quinn, accrued hundreds of millions of watch time hours soon after its release. And, with all of this buzz flying around in the cinematic world, it was only a matter of time before the music world got involved with the series.

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The rapidly rising singer/songwriter duo, Barlow & Bear, took a particular interest in Bridgerton. The pair, also known by their full names Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, created an unofficial musical for the series by penning songs that described many of the events in the show.

Now, though, the pair are being sued by the streaming giant and Bridgerton distributor Netflix.

In a statement from the lawsuit, Netflix representatives explained that they had celebrated Barlow & Bear’s work while it remained a free homage to the series. Once the pair began seeking to make a profit, however, Netflix began to voice its qualms about financially benefiting from one of its brands.

In particular, Barlow & Bear recently performed their musical live with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. Netflix claimed to have made “repeated objection[s]” to the show.

“Throughout the performance, Barlow & Bear misrepresented to the audience that they were using Netflix’s BRIDGERTON trademark ‘with Permission,'” the lawsuit stated.

Further, as the lawsuit stated, “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.”

Barlow & Bear have yet to comment on the suit, but it begs the question, when does imitation become infringement?

Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / Getty Images

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