A federal court in Los Angeles has approved a settlement in a dispute between Disney and the estate of Michael Jackson, which related to the use of the late singer’s songs, music videos and live footage in a documentary.
In 2018, Jackson’s estate sued Disney in the Western Division of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California because of a film called The Last Days of Michael Jackson. ABC allegedly broadcast the documentary without receiving approval from the estate to use the singer’s songs and imagery.
In its filed complaint, the estate made note of the irony that Disney would infringe upon the copyrights of others when the company itself “depends on its intellectual property”. The estate further pointed out that Disney’s “zeal to protect its own intellectual property from infringements, real or imagined, often knows no bounds.”
Because of this, the estate indicated that they were “genuinely shocked” that the documentary made use of Jackson’s intellectual property without permission. They furthermore indicated that Disney never even discussed with them obtaining proper licensing for the material that they used in the film.
Disney countered that they believed the use of the material was covered under the “fair use” doctrine.
At the same time, though, Disney removed certain imagery from the film just a few days prior to its broadcast.
A trial was scheduled to begin this month. But as the parties have now reached a settlement on the issue, Jackson’s estate formally issued a request to dismiss the case. The court has now granted them this wish.
So far, neither Disney nor Michael Jackson’s estate have commented on the settlement. But with the lawsuit out of the way, the estate can now focus on fresh lawsuits that may come forth in January because of a new California law that gives victims of child sex abuse additional time to file claims.