Michael Jackson’s estate has filed a copyright infringement suit against the Walt Disney Company, alleging that an ABC television special used the legendary singers songs and videos without permission.
The suit surrounds “The Last Days of Michael Jackson,” a TV special that aired on March 24, reported Variety.
The estate alleges that the producers used songs including “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” and “The Girl Is Mine,” along with music videos such as “Thriller,” and clips from “This Is It,” the concert documentary.
“The extent of Disney’s use of the Estate’s intellectual property in ‘The Last Days of Michael Jackson’ is truly astounding,” the suit states.
According to the estate, Disney’s attorneys never reached out to obtain the permission before the show aired. When the estate raised objections, Disney asserted that the show was a “documentary” and was entitled to use the material under the “fair use” doctrine.
Howard Weitzman, the attorney for the Jackson estate, said that was “patently absurd”.
“If Disney’s position on fair use of the Estate’s copyrights were accepted, a network, studio, or producer could make a documentary about Walt Disney, and spend most of the documentary’s time using, without Disney’s permission, extensive clips of Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney, and Disney movies,” Weitzman wrote.
He added that Disney is engaged in blatant hypocrisy”.
In a statement, an ABC spokesman said the company is yet to review to the complaint.
“The ABC News documentary explored the life, career and legacy of Michael Jackson, who remains of great interest to people worldwide, and did not infringe on his estate’s rights,” the statement read.