Netflix sues creators of ‘Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’ for ‘flagrant infringement’

Netflix has filed a lawsuit against the authors of ‘The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical’.

In documents obtained by The Post, the streaming giant goes after Abigail Barlow, 23, and Emily Bear, 20 – known professionally as Barlow & Bear – for stopping the Grammy-winning duo from produce any future production of their live show.

Earlier this week, the musical performed to a sold-out crowd at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. The lawsuit claims the ticket price reached $149 each and VIP packages were also listed.

Netflix also wants compensation for any profits the musicians have already made from the show.

“Netflix supports fan-generated content, but Barlow & Bear have gone further, seeking to create multiple revenue streams for themselves without formal permission to use the Bridgerton IP,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to The Post.

“We tried very hard to work with Barlow & Bear, and they refused to cooperate. The creators, cast, writers and crew have invested their hearts and souls in Bridgerton, and we are taking action to protect their rights,” they continued.

“Defendants Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear and their companies (“Barlow & Bear”) have taken the valuable intellectual property of the Netflix original series Bridgerton to create an international brand for themselves,” wrote Rosa Leda Ehler, an attorney representing Netflix, in the complaint. .

“Bridgerton reflects the creative work and hard-earned success of hundreds of artists and Netflix employees. Netflix owns the exclusive right to create songs, musicals, or any other derivative works based on Bridgerton,” she continues. “Barlow & Bear cannot take this right, made valuable by the hard work of others, for themselves, without permission. Yet that is exactly what they have done.”

The complaint continues: “The live broadcast featured more than a dozen songs that verbatim copied dialogue, character traits and expression, and other elements from Bridgerton the series. It included dramatic portrayals of Bridgerton characters by Broadway actors, moving through the rendition of the songs that make up the “musical”.

The complaint further suggests that the live broadcast smacks of “flagrant violation” that goes against copyright and trademark laws.

“The Barlow & Bear ride started on social media, but expands ‘fan fiction’ far beyond its breaking point,” the suit adds. “This is a gross violation of intellectual property rights.”

He also claims that the duo promoted their show “using Netflix’s BRIDGERTON trademark ‘with permission’, while Netflix vigorously opposed it.”

“There is so much joy in watching audiences fall in love with Bridgerton and watching the creative ways in which they express their fandom,” Shonda Rhimes, the series’ executive producer, said in a statement. “What started as a fun celebration by Barlow & Bear on social media has turned into a blatant grab 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 people,” she added. “Just as Barlow & Bear would not allow others to appropriate their IP for profit, Netflix cannot sit idly by and allow Barlow & Bear to do the same with Bridgerton.”

Julia Quinn, author of the ‘Bridgerton’ novels, also gave a statement to The Post, writing: “Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear are extremely talented, and I was flattered and thrilled when they started composing Bridgerton songs and to share with other fans on TikTok There is however a difference between composing on TikTok and recording and performing for commercial purposes.

“I hope Barlow & Bear, who share my position as independent creative professionals, will understand the need to protect the intellectual property of other professionals, including the characters and stories I have created in Bridgerton’s novels he more than twenty years ago,” she concluded.

Netflix’s soapy landmark hit is in its second season.
LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX

Barlow and Bear originally toyed with the idea for “Bridgerton” songs for fans on TikTok in 2021. With lead vocals and orchestration from Barlow, production and additional vocals from Bear, the duo created enough songs to release an album. “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical” won Best Musical Theater Album at the 2022 Grammys, making it the youngest in history to win the category.

The couple have planned to tour the show, recently announcing a stopover in London, but the lawsuit could change that.

Netflix’s hit and steamy historical drama is now in its second season with season 3 already in the works – and plans to focus on Penelope Featherington’s love affair with her crush, Colin Bridgerton, by stepping aside a bit of the Julia Quinn series of books.

The Post has contacted Netflix and Barlow & Bear for comment.