Michael Jackson’s estate sues ABC, Disney with accusations of exploiting his legacy

Michael Jackson's estate sued ABC on Wednesday, arguing that the network used his songs and videos without permission.

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ABC is under fire for using copyrighted material without the proper permissions for their recent special The Last Days of Michael Jackson, and the deceased singer’s estate wants them to pay up.

Clips of Michael Jackson throughout the years, dancing and performing his hits took center stage during the ABC special, but Howard Weitzman, the Jackson estate’s attorney says the network didn’t have the authority to air the clips.

“Disney and ABC committed willful and intentional copyright infringement when they used the Estate’s copyrighted materials without the Estate’s permission,” Weitzman said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

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“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,” Weitzman’s statement continued, adding: “The Estate has no choice but to vigorously protect its intellectual property, which is the lifeblood of its business.”

For those who didn’t catch the ABC News special program, The Last Days of Michael Jackson included Jackson’s most noteworthy music moments including clips from the “Thriller” and “Bad” music videos and well has his iconic “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” videos. Live concert footage was used along with a clip from the 2016 Spike Lee documentary, “Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall” and the 2009 documentary “Michael Jackson’s This Is It.”

His estate said ABC didn’t have permission to air any of it.

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ABC, which is in the middle of another controversy after the cancellation of their hit show, “Roseanne,” hasn’t had time to address the complaint.

“We have not yet had an opportunity to review the complaint. The ABC News’ documentary explored the life, career and legacy of Michael Jackson, who remains of great interest to people worldwide, and did not infringe on his estate’s rights,” an ABC News spokesperson tells PEOPLE.

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The special explored the singer’s troubled life and the depths of his drug addiction to painkillers. His estate criticized the special saying:

“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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