The Michael Jackson estate has settled its copyright lawsuit with Disney over the TV special The Last Days of Michael Jackson, which aired on ABC in 2018 and, according to the estate, used Jackson’s image and music without permission.
“The matter was amicably resolved,” a rep from the Jackson estate told Rolling Stone Thursday. Reps for ABC and Disney did not immediately reply to requests for comment. Details of the settlement were not revealed.
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In May 2018, the Jackson estate, which had previously voiced its disapproval of the unauthorized The Last Days of Michael Jackson, filed the lawsuit against Disney, ABC’s parent company, over the special, arguing that it used “substantial portions” of estate-owned copyrighted material — music videos, concert performances, documentary footage and more — without permission.
The estate claimed to only find out about The Last Days of Michael Jackson days before its premiere and protested the use of a Jackson image in promotional materials; ABC immediately removed the promotional images, but argued their utilizing Jackson’s music and videos in the special fell under the “fair use” doctrine.
“Disney and ABC committed willful and intentional copyright infringement when they used the Estate’s copyrighted materials without the Estate’s permission,” Jackson estate attorney Howard Weitzman said in a statement at the time.
“Can you imagine using Disney’s intellectual property – like Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Star Wars, The Avengers, Toy Story, and so many other works – without asking Disney’s permission or getting a license? The Estate has no choice but to vigorously protect its intellectual property, which is the lifeblood of its business.”
A jury trial was scheduled to begin in December 2019 before the settlement was reached.
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