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Michael Jackson Estate Settles Copyright Fight With Disney

The Michael Jackson Estate has reached a confidential settlement with Disney over a 2018 TV special that included numerous clips from Jackson’s songs and music videos.

The estate sued in May 2018, alleging that “The Last Days of Michael Jackson” engaged in “astounding” copyright infringement. According to the suit, the ABC special used portions of more than 30 songs and videos belonging to the estate, including “Beat It,” “Billie Jean” and clips from the “Thriller” music video and the “This Is It” concert documentary. The estate alleged that the producers never reached out for a license to use the material, and instead decided to use it all for free.

Disney contended that it was entitled to use the clips under the “fair use” doctrine.

The two sides filed a notice on Wednesday dismissing the complaint pursuant to a settlement.

“The dispute with Disney has been amicably resolved,” said Howard Weitzman, attorney for the Jackson estate, in a statement.

The estate’s claim included allegations that Disney had been extremely zealous in protecting its own copyrights.

“Disney has threatened to sue independent childcare centers for having pictures of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck on their walls, forcing them to remove all pictures of Mickey or Donald — and other anthropomorphized mice or ducks — rather than face ruinous litigation from one of the world’s largest corporations,” the suit alleged. “Disney once sued a couple on public assistance for $1 million when they appeared at children’s parties dressed as an orange tiger and a blue donkey. Apparently, these costumes cut too close to Tigger and Eeyore for Disney’s tastes.”

A jury trial had been scheduled for December 2020.

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