Thursday, June 20, 2024

Michael Jackson’s Estate Says ABC Didn’t Secure Rights for Tonight’s Special; Network Responds

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*On the eve of tonight’s ABC News primetime special “The Last Days of Michael Jackson,” the singer’s estate accused the network of failing to secure rights to the King of Pop’s music and other material that it used for the program.

In a statement, the estate called out ABC’s “crass and unauthorized attempt to exploit the life, music and image” of the iconic performer, and that the network is using “music and other intellectual property owned by the Estate … without having licensed the rights to any such material.”

It adds, “Imagine if this was done with any of ABC’s intellectual property.”

ABC issued a response to the claim late Wednesday (May 23), saying it has made a slight adjustment to tonight’s special “as a courtesy” to the estate.

An ABC News spokesman said: “ABC News’ documentary explores the life, career and legacy of Michael Jackson, who remains of great interest to people worldwide. The program does not infringe on his estate’s rights, but as a courtesy, we removed a specific image from the promotional material.”

The estate’s original claim didn’t state whether it planned legal action to halt tonight’s broadcast.

Read the full statement below.

We want consumers to know that The Last Days of Michael Jackson, a television special airing on ABC TV (a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company) tomorrow May 24, is not sponsored or approved by the Estate of Michael Jackson. It is particularly disheartening that Disney, a company known to strongly believe in protecting its own IP rights, would choose to ignore these rights belonging to the Estate.

ABC was using a copyrighted photo and silhouette image owned by the Estate in the trailers and promotional material for the special. Only after notice from our attorneys to ABC News indicating they were infringing on our IP rights were the materials removed. We are told ABC intends to use music and other intellectual property owned by the Estate such as photos, logos, artwork, and more in the program itself, without having licensed the rights to any such material. Imagine if this was done with any of ABC’s intellectual property. We believe the special to be another crass and unauthorized attempt to exploit the life, music and image of Michael Jackson without respect for Michael’s legacy, intellectual property rights or his children.

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