By Bradford Betz, ,
Published May 30, 2018
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.
The copyright infringement lawsuit, filed in federal court in Los Angeles, alleges that, "The Last Days of Michael Jackson," which aired May 24, illegally uses significant excerpts of his songs, including "Billie Jean" and "Bad," and music videos, including "Thriller" and "Black or White."
The two-hour program attracted about 5.6 million adult viewers, Variety reported.
Like Disney, the lifeblood of the estate's business is its intellectual property. Yet for some reason, Disney decided it could just use the estate's most valuable intellectual property for free.
The lawsuit alleges at least 30 violations and seeks unspecified damages and an injunction against further use of the estate's intellectual property.
"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."
ABC representatives said they had not yet reviewed 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, calling it "a mediocre look back at Michael Jackson's life and entertainment career." The lawsuit says Disney attorneys ignored warning letters before airing the documentary.
Jackson died at age 50 on June 25, 2009, of acute intoxication from propofol, a sleep aid he took during preparations for a series of comeback concerts.
Former cardiologist Conrad Murray was convicted in 2011 of involuntary manslaughter for giving Jackson a fatal dose of the drug. He served two years behind bars, and his conviction was upheld in 2014.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.