In May, the federal courts across the pond received yet another lawsuit from the estate of a late celebrity, as Michael Jackson’s estate sued Disney for copyright infringement.
The king of pop’s estate claims that the Walt Disney Company and ABC TV unlawfully used several of his songs, including Billie Jean, Beat It and Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, in their controversial biopic programme – The Last Days of Michael Jackson – which aired on the American network in May.
As well as claiming that the TV special used these songs without its permission, the estate says that they also used substantial portions of the star’s music videos and live performances unlawfully as part of the production.
Howard Weitzman, the estate’s lawyer, commented in a press statement that both defendants ‘committed wilful and intentional copyright infringement’ in producing the show without seeking the Jackson estate’s permission. He accused Disney, in particular, of ‘blatant hypocrisy’ when it comes to infringing IP rights.
Although not yet having reviewed the lawsuit – which doesn’t specify the amount of damages claimed – an ABC spokesperson told Rolling Stone that the show ‘did not infringe on [Jackson’s] estate’s rights’.
Following on from similar lawsuits, issued by the likes of Marvin Gaye’s estate, we await the American courts’ judgment on the dispute.