Trouble in the ton! Netflix’s Bridgerton has fast become one of the streamer’s most popular hit series, which soon inspired plenty of fan theories, content creation and original music.
Following the season 1 premiere of Bridgerton in December 2020, Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear announced their intentions to make their own musical inspired by the show via TikTok. After going viral on the social media platform, the musical duo were eventually able to record their numbers on an “unofficial” soundtrack album, which is currently streaming on Spotify. Barlow and Bear, who’ve since won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre Album, have now been named in a copyright infringement lawsuit by Netflix.
“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,” the federal lawsuit stated, according to the paperwork obtained by Deadline on Friday, July 29. “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.”
The tech company has alleged they made “repeated objection” after the musicians announced plans to sell tickets for their live stagings at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center and London’s Royal Albert Hall.
“[Their] live show featured over a dozen songs that copied verbatim dialogue, character traits and expression, and other elements from Bridgerton the series,” the court documents read. “It included dramatic portrayals of Bridgerton characters by Broadway actors, emoting through the performance of the songs that comprise the ‘musical.’ Throughout the performance, Barlow & Bear misrepresented to the audience that they were using Netflix’s Bridgerton trademark ‘with Permission,’ while Netflix vigorously objected.”
Netflix, who has the exclusive right to authorize derivative works based on Julia Quinn’s book series, claimed in the court paperwork that they repeatedly told Barlow and Bear that their musical was unauthorized before the ladies went ahead with their plans. Their agent had allegedly told the streaming giant that the girls had “no interest in interfering with Netflix’s rights” or being known as “the Bridgerton girls.”
Netflix and Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland production company adapted Quinn’s bestselling historical romance novels ahead of its first season premiere. Much like the books, the show follows the eight Bridgerton siblings as they navigate the marriage market in 17th-century London. Bridgerton, which is currently filming its third season, stars Jonathan Bailey, Phoebe Dynevor, Luke Newton, Luke Thompson, Claudia Jessie, Nicola Coughlan and Simone Ashley with Julie Andrews voicing Lady Whistledown.
Barlow and Bear did not immediately respond to Us Weekly‘s request for comment.
Scroll below for everything to know so far about Netflix’s legal battle over Bridgerton: