“The estate of Michael Jackson sued ABC and parent company Disney on Wednesday, saying a recent documentary on the singer's last days improperly used his songs, music videos and movie clips.”
A copyright infringement lawsuit that was recently filed in Los Angeles federal court claims that "The Last Days of Michael Jackson," which aired May 24, illegally used significant excerpts of his songs. Some of the material was from the hits "Billie Jean" and "Bad" and music videos, including "Thriller" and "Black or White."
Fox News reports in the article, “Michael Jackson's estate sues ABC, Disney over 'Last Days' TV special,” that the lawsuit alleges at least 30 violations. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages and an injunction against further use of the estate's intellectual property.
Variety reported that the two-hour show had roughly 5.6 million adult viewers.
"Like Disney, the lifeblood of the estate's business is its intellectual property," the lawsuit says. "Yet for some reason, Disney decided it could just use the estate's most valuable intellectual property for free."
Representatives of ABC said they had not yet looked at the lawsuit, but reiterated a statement from last week that the special was a piece of journalism and "did not infringe on his estate's rights."
The lawsuit dismisses the idea that the documentary had any news value. The action says the show was "a mediocre look back at Michael Jackson's life and entertainment career." The lawsuit says Disney attorneys ignored letters of warning from the estate, before the airing of the documentary.
Michael Jackson died at age 50 on June 25, 2009. The cause of his death was acute intoxication from propofol. In 2011, former California cardiologist Conrad Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson a fatal dose of the drug. Murray served two years behind bars. His conviction was upheld in 2014.
Jackson was called the "King of Pop" and one of the most popular entertainers in the world. He was the best-selling music artist during the year of his death. His contributions to music, dance, and fashion—as well as his highly publicized personal life—made him a global figure in popular culture for more than 40 years.
Reference: Fox News (June 1, 2018) “Michael Jackson's estate sues ABC, Disney over 'Last Days' TV special”