The Michael Jackson Estate is suing ABC and Walt Disney Company for using several of its copyrighted works without permission. Disney argued that no harm was done as airing “The Last Days of Michael Jackson” documentary is “fair use.” The Estate disagrees saying Disney’s argument would leave even Napster’s founders bewildered.
On 30th May, the Michael Jackson Estate filed a copyright infringement complaint against The Walt Disney Company and ABC, who broadcasted the primetime special “The Last Days of Michael Jackson” last week.
In the complaint, the Estate said Disney and ABC’s broadcast used no less than thirty different copyrighted works owned by the Estate, without authorization. Michael Jackson’s heirs had, in fact, urged the media behemoths to not its intellectual property without a license.
The Estate has termed this act by Disney a double standard.
The complaint emphasized that Disney is known for its strict copyright enforcement actions but perhaps blatantly disregards copyright law’s “fair use”.
For example, a few years back Disney sent DMCA takedown notices to Twitter, Facebook, and other websites and web hosts, when consumers posted pictures of new Star Wars toys that were legally purchased.
“Apparently, Disney claimed that simple amateur photographs of Star Wars characters in toy form infringed Disney’s copyrights in the characters and were not a fair use,” the Estate writes.
But, when the Estate told the same, Disney used “fair use” as a defense. Disney argued that it could legally use Jackson’s copyrighted material as the broadcast was labeled as a documentary.
According to Jackson’s heirs, this is “absurd” and “dead wrong” as even the founders of Napster would recognize this act as blatant infringement.
Turning the screws on Disney, the Estate gives several examples of cases where the media juggernaut is likely to oppose to its own fair use arguments.
The Estate said that if Disney’s stand on the fair use of the Estate’s copyrights were accepted then by that logic anybody could create a two-hour documentary about the Star Wars franchise without permission.
“We are confident that Disney would not react kindly to attempts by others to create such projects without getting permission from Disney and paying Disney for the use of its property,” the Estate adds.
Jackson’s heirs believe that Disney and ABC have blatantly infringed. They, therefore, request an injunction preventing any additional infringement as well as damages for the losses they’ve endured.