Netflix Sues Musical Creators Over ‘Blatant Infringement’ of One Its Most Popular Shows

by Shelby Scott

Netflix is currently working on production for the third season of its hit historical drama Bridgerton. In the meantime, its soundtrack continues to see major fan love. The series features a Victorian take on modern songs like Madonna’s “Material Girl” and Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball.” Overall, the twist on fan-favorite hits plays into the massively successful series, produced by Shonda Rhimes. However, now, it appears the soundtrack may have been too well-liked. Currently, Bridgerton fans are anxiously awaiting the series’ next all-new season. In the meantime, though, its streamer, Netflix, has moved to sue the creators of The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical. The platform has officially cited “blatant copyright infringement.”

According to Entertainment Weekly, the lawsuit came as Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear, the musical’s creators, reportedly “staged a massive, for-profit stage show [that featured] over a dozen songs that copied verbatim dialogue, character traits and expression, and other elements from the Bridgerton series.”

As per the outlet, both Barlow and Bear are named in Netflix’s lawsuit. The company filed the suit on Friday in the Washington D.C. federal court.

In a statement, Netflix said, “[We] support 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 streaming platform further argued that while they’ve tried to work with the musical’s creators, “they have refused to cooperate.”

In conclusion, the company stated to EW, “The creators, cast, writers, and crew have poured their hearts and souls into Bridgerton and we’re taking action to protect their rights.”

‘Bridgerton’ Creator Speaks Out About Netflix’s Lawsuit

According to the outlet, Barlow & Bear had begun to incur Netflix’s wrath following previous shows. However, when the musical’s creators sold out D.C.’s Kennedy Center for the Bridgerton-inspired show, it served as the nail on the head.

Tickets for the one-night event cost up to $149. Additionally, EW states that Netflix’s lawsuit claims that Barlow & Bear were also selling Bridgerton-themed merchandise during the performance. Following the suit’s filing, Shonda Rhimes, one of the Netflix series’ biggest contributors, spoke out about the decision.

“There is so much joy in seeing audiences fall in love with Bridgerton and watching the creative ways they express their fandom,” she said. But, “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…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.”

The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical initially began as a viral TikTok hit. The creators became inspired to produce their project during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Barlow & Bear not only serve as the production’s creators but also as songwriters. The duo won the 2022 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album for their take on the Netflix series.