Music based on the hit Netflix series Bridgerton has been a success. Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear wrote 15 songs, picking up fans on TikTok, then released an album that won a Grammy in April. The fans included Netflix, the Verge reports. "Absolutely blown away by the Bridgerton musical playing out on TikTok," the company tweeted in January 2021. On Tuesday, the Unofficial Bridgerton Musical was performed before a sold-out audience at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, with assistance by the National Symphony Orchestra, and Netflix changed its tune. The company has since sued Barlow and Bear.
Netflix had no complaints when the music was a no-cost tribute offered online, per Deadline, but now there's money involved. "There is a difference," Julia Quinn, who wrote the book series, said, "between composing on TikTok and recording and performing for commercial gain." The complaint filed in District Court in Washington says the production "stretches 'fan fiction' well past its breaking point," calling it "a blatant infringement of intellectual property rights." Netflix said that it owns the rights to any content based on its show and that it told Barlow and Bear their Bridgerton music wasn't authorized.
The streaming company holds its own Bridgerton events six times a year in various cities, the "Bridgerton Experience," and it said the competing production could hurt attendance. In addition, Barlow and Bear have booked London's Royal Albert Hall for their musical in September. The company said the two have been unwilling to negotiate a license, which would settle the issue. Barlow and Bear have not commented on the lawsuit. (Read more Bridgerton stories.)