Netflix's original series, Bridgerton, made waves in the midst of the global pandemic that it easily built a massive fanbase and TikTok stars Barlow and Bear, inspired by the show, made an album, The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical which now faces a lawsuit from the streaming platform. Executive producer Shonda Rhimes and author Julia Quinn break their silence on the issue.
Bridgerton easily became a fan-favorite on Netflix following the high-profile romantic life of the titular family during the Regency Era of London based on Julia Quinn's novels of the same name and it got a huge and dedicated fanbase making it one of the most watched shows on the streaming platform in 2020.
The lockdown during the pandemic gave everyone time to watch the series and Bridgerton's ratings skyrocketed. Fans took it to another thing of the lockdown, TikTok, to express their interest on the show like the duo Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear who made songs based on the series.
Barlow and Bear's love for the show grew into a whole album titled The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical and it even reached the top spot of the US Pop Chart of iTunes. Barlow and Bear were recognized at the 2022 Grammy Awards with the Best Musical Theater Album, even presenting their album at Kennedy Center.
The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical soared high with positive responses from the audience and critics gaining 36 million likes on TikTok. However, Netflix wasn't that pleased that they filed a lawsuit against Barlow and Bear for copyright infringement after various attempts in negotiation.
Netflix, Bridgerton Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes, and author Julia Quinn break their silence through statements on Playbill, Rhimes said, "There is so much joy in seeing audiences fall in love with Bridgerton and watching the creative ways they express their fandom. 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."
Rhimes added, "This property was created by Julia Quinn and brought to life on screen through the hard work of countless individuals. 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."
For Julia Quinn who wrote the Bridgerton novels, "Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear are wildly talented, and I was flattered and delighted when they began composing Bridgerton songs and sharing with other fans on TikTok. There is a difference, however, between composing on TikTok and recording and performing for commercial gain."
Quinn further explained, "I would hope that Barlow & Bear, who share my position as independent creative professionals, understand the need to protect other professionals' intellectual property, including the characters and stories I created in the Bridgerton novels over 20 years ago."
Netflix also released their own statement on the issue, "Netflix supports 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."
In the same statement, Netflix reiterated that they negotiated with Barlow and Bear but to no avail, "We’ve tried hard to work with Barlow & Bear, and they have refused to cooperate. The creators, cast, writers, and crew have poured their hearts and souls into Bridgerton, and we’re taking action to protect their rights."
Bridgerton Seasons 1 and 2 are now streaming on Netflix. There is no release date yet for Season 3.