The internet is no stranger to fan projects, particularly those of the musical variety. So when Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear created the “Unofficial Bridgerton Musical,” there was nothing but immediate fan appreciation. To the surprise of many, Netflix even posted some of the songs on their social media platforms. It seemed that the fan-made musical was a big hit with everyone. Until, that is, it started to turn a profit. Barlow and Bear is being sued by Netflix for monetizing the creation.
It seems they only garnered support from Netflix so long as they were a harmless fan project that wasn’t anything more than a parody of a popular IP. Netflix even gave them permission to release the full album. An album that won Barlow and Bear a Grammy, making them some of the youngest people to ever win an award for Best Musical Album. But after allowing the musical to freely promote the Netflix series, which continues to be greenlit for further seasons, the streamer is now taking Browning and Bear to court for taking the musical on tour.
So What Changed?
“The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical Album Live in Concert” was held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The show sold out with tickets ranging up to $150 a seat. Netflix claims the lawsuit is due to perpetual silence when they told Browning and Bear to cancel the event. The lawsuit claims “Netflix owns the exclusive right to create ‘Bridgerton’ songs, musicals, or any other derivative works based on ‘Bridgerton.’ Barlow and Bear cannot take that right — made valuable by others’ hard work — for themselves, without permission. Yet that is exactly what they have done.”
There’s no small amount of mixed messaging from the streamer. They continued to support and promote the musical as a means to promote their own show. Then rescinded their blessings the minute Barlow and Bear saw any profit. Their lawsuit goes on to state that Barlow and Bear are using their property to make a name for themselves. Yet, while Netflix didn’t authorize the release of the “Unofficial Bridgerton Album,” they did not order a C&D (Cease and Desist) and didn’t stand in the way of its publication. Apparently the streamer reached out to find a compromise with Barlow and Bear. One that would allow the continuation of the tour, but they were turned down.
Barlow and Bear have yet to comment on the issues surrounding the suit, but it sets a worrying precedent for how IP owners interact with fan works depending on the outcome.
“Bridgerton” seasons 1-2 are available to watch on Netflix now. Season 3 is currently in production.