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Netflix files copyright infringement lawsuit against creators of Bridgerton Musical

Netflix has sued the creators of The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical, a musical spin off of Netflix's alternate history drama Bridgerton. Reuters reported that Netflix is suing its creators, Abigail Barlow (pictured left) and Emily Bear (pictured right), on the grounds of copyright infringement, after repeatedly warning them.

Netflix said: "Barlow and Bear's conduct began on social media, but stretches 'fan fiction' well past its breaking point. It is blatant infringement of intellectual property rights."

Furthermore, Netflix said that the musical "attracted Bridgerton enthusiasts who would not have otherwise attended the Bridgerton event," an immersive experience offered by Netflix across the United States.

Since January of last year, Barlow has been uploading musical spinoffs of Netflix's Bridgerton on TikTok. Barlow uploaded a multipart series of the spinoff titled "What if Bridgerton was a musical?" with over 1.9 million views at the time of writing. She then teamed with American music producer Bear, with whom she created a 15-song album last September. Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, and Deezer have all made the album available. Julia Quinn, the author of Bridgerton, also expressed her support for the couple.

Following that, Bear and Barlow received a Grammy this year for best musical theatre album at the 64th GRAMMY Awards. The pair performed at the Kennedy Center's 50th Anniversary performance in October, then in December, they teamed with Grammy nominee Andrew Lloyd Webber on a "Cinderella/Bridgerton" mashup.

The complaint was filed on July 26th, following the duo's sold out live performance of The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical at the Kennedy Center. Meanwhile, Bridgeton author Julia Quinn stated, "There is, however, a distinction between composing on TikTok and recording and performing for commercial benefit."

Meanwhile, series creator Shonda Rhimes told Reuters that "while there is so much joy in seeing audiences fall in love with Bridgerton and find creative ways to express their appreciation, what began as a fun celebration by Barlow and Bear on social media has turned into the blatant taking of intellectual property solely for Barlow and Bear's financial benefit." In addition, Barlow and Bear have planned another live performance of the musical at London's Royal Albert Hall in September.

Bridgerton, a Netflix original film that depicts the story of eight siblings yearning for love and happiness in London's high society, will be released in December 2020. Last year, it immediately rose to the Top 10 in Singapore. Because of the huge popularity of the series, Netflix released season two in March and plans to release season three soon. Previously, to promote the series in Singapore, Netflix Singapore used its Instagram account to depict the characters in Bridgerton as various teas – a commodity famous in England that Singaporeans can get at kopitiams (coffee shop). The characters were given tongue-in-cheek descriptions as part of the localised marketing gimmick.

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