IP Law News

Disney, Michael Jackson Estate Settle Documentary Copyright Case

Dec. 23, 2019, 9:28 PM

A Los Angeles federal court approved a settlement between Michael Jackson’s estate and the Walt Disney Co. over its use of his songs, music videos, and concert footage in a documentary about his life.

The estate sued Disney in 2018 for using its copyrighted works in ABC’s “The Last Days of Michael Jackson” without permission. In the complaint, the estate said Disney’s media business “depends on its intellectual property” and “its zeal to protect its own intellectual property from infringements, real or imagined, often knows no bounds.”

“In light of all this,” the complaint said the estate was “genuinely shocked” when they saw the use of “dozens” of Jackson’s works in the ABC documentary. Disney never approached the estate to obtain licenses to the works, the complaint said.

Jackson’s estate requested dismissal of the case Dec. 18. The court gave its final approval of the settlement Dec. 23.

Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP represented the estate. O’Melveny & Myers LLP represented Disney.

The case is MJJ Prods. Inc. v. Walt Disney Co., C.D. Cal., No. 2:18-cv-04761, 12/23/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Blake Brittain in Washington at bbrittain@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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