Netflix Just Settled A Major Lawsuit Over Its Best Series
Netflix's lawsuit over an unauthorized Bridgerton musical has been dropped.
Netflix has dropped the copyright lawsuit it had filed against the creators of The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical. Although the ruling did not mention the terms of the streamer’s settlement with Emily Bear and Abigail Barlow, court documents filed in Washington DC stated, “Plaintiffs Netflix Worldwide Entertainment, LLC and Netflix Studios, LLC hereby dismiss this action with prejudice.”
The words “with prejudice” in the brief notice of voluntary dismissal means the suit cannot be filed again, Deadline reports. The move comes just one day after Barlow and Bear were supposed to respond to the streamer’s initial Bridgerton copyright complaint filed in July. At the time Netflix sued the duo for staging a massive “for-profit stage show” of their TikTok musical in D.C.’s Kennedy Center, which it said occurred after repeated objections.
The complaint also said Barlow and Bear misrepresented their affiliation with the Netflix series to its audience and sold unofficial merchandise during the show. The streamer added that their performance also featured several songs that “copied verbatim dialogue, character traits expressions, and other elements from Bridgerton. The duo had also announced a concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall which has since been canceled.
The streamer initially praised Barlow and Bear for their dedication to the series, but a line was crossed when the pair started profiting from content that didn’t belong to them. “Netflix supports fan-generated content, but Barlow & Bear have taken this many steps further, seeking to create multiple revenue streams for themselves without formal permission to utilize the Bridgerton IP,” the company said in a statement via Variety.
After Barlow and Bear refused to cooperate with Netflix, Bridgerton creator Shonda Rhimes also stepped in to stop the venture. “What started as a fun celebration on social media has turned into the blatant taking of intellectual property solely for Barlow and Bear’s financial benefit,” the writer said. She added that the property was created by Julia Quinn and brought to life on screen through the hard work of countless individuals and legal action is necessary to protect their rights.
Barlow and Bear have not commented on the lawsuit. Their “Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” was developed on social media in real-time, with lead vocals by Barlow and orchestration, production, and additional vocals by Bear. The record even reached the number one spot on the U.S iTunes pop charts, streaming more than 45 million times. It also won a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. But Netflix is the only company that owns the exclusive right to create Bridgerton songs, musicals, or any other derivative works based on the series.
Created for television by Chris Van Dusen, Bridgerton is set against the backdrop of London’s Regency era. The story follows eight close-knit siblings of the noble and powerful Bridgerton as they navigate high society in search of love, while surrounded by friends and rivals alike. The first two seasons are available on Netflix, with the third season currently in production. The third installment will see the series jumping ahead in the timeline of the books to focus on Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton’s love story. While the exact release date has not been revealed, fans can expect the series to premiere in 2023.
Meanwhile, author Julia Quinn and Shonda Rhimes are also teaming up for a series of Bridgerton prequel novels. The books will be based on the Netflix spinoff series that will chronicle the rise of Queen Charlotte. The plot will focus on how the young Queen’s marriage to King George sparked a great love story and societal shift, creating the culturally inclusive world seen in the television series.