Today, the Estate of Michael Jackson filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles against The Walt Disney Company and ABC for what the Estate is calling “willful and intentional infringements of dozens of copyrights” used for the station’s prime time special The Last Days of Michael Jackson last week.

The Estate is suing over ABC’s use of excerpts from “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” and other valuable songs.


“Disney and ABC committed willful and intentional copyright infringement when they used the Estate’s copyrighted materials without the Estate’s permission. Disney’s conduct here was particularly surprising given that it has no tolerance for anyone using its copyrighted material in even the most trivial of manners. Disney and ABC’s conduct is also contrary to law and industry practice, and despite several cautionary letters from the Estate to Disney and ABC attorneys.  Disney and ABC never sought the Jackson Estate’s permission to use any of the material owned by the Estate in the broadcast,” said Howard Weitzman of Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP, who, with his partner Jonathan Steinsapir, filed the lawsuit for the Jackson Estate.

Weitzman added “The Estate has no choice but to vigorously protect its intellectual property, which is the lifeblood of its business.”

Other copyrighted material allegedly misused by ABC includes substantial portions from music videos for “Thriller,” “Black and White,” and “Bad,” in addition to iconic live performances such as Michael Jackson: Live in Bucharest and Michael Jackson: Live at Wembley and documentary material.