ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Rockford native Emily Bear, as well as her songwriting partner Abigail Barlow, are being sued by Netflix for “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical.”
While originally praising the idea as a free online homage, the streaming giant is now objecting as the musical is becoming a for-profit venture, according to Collider. Bear and Barlow played a sold out show at Kennedy Center earlier this week, and they are reportedly planning a tour.
“The live show featured over a dozen songs that copied verbatim dialogue, character traits and expression, and other elements from Bridgerton the series,” Netflix said in an official complaint. “It included dramatic portrayals on Bridgerton characters by Broadway actors, emoting through the performance of the songs that comprise the musical. 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.”
Netflix also objected to the duo saying that they were using the Bridgerton trademark “with Permission,” as the streamer said that they are misleading the audience because Netflix “vigorously objected.”
Rosa Leda Ehler, an attorney representing Netflix, said that “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.”
Netflix, who is putting on their own tour for the show called “Bridgerton Experience, said that Barlow and Bears’ tour is in direct conflict with theirs.
“We’ve tried hard to work with Barlow & Bear, and they have refused to cooperate,” said one Netflix spokesperson. “The creators, cast, writers and crew have poured their hearts and souls into Bridgerton, and we’re taking action to protect their rights.”
Shonda Rhimes, the show’s creator, said that “What started as a fun celebration by Barlow & Bear on social media has turned into the blatant taking of intellectual property solely for Barlow & Bear’s financial benefit. This property was created by Julia Quinn and brought to life on screen through the hard work of countless individuals. Just as Barlow & Bear would not allow others to appropriate their IP for profit, Netflix cannot stand by and allow Barlow & Bear to do the same with Bridgerton.”
Barlow and Bear reportedly turned down a licensing offer from Netflix before their performance.