Michael Jackson estate, Disney reach settlement in copyright dispute

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The estate of late King of Pop Michael Jackson and the Walt Disney Company have reached a settlement in a copyright lawsuit over an ABC TV special.

Howard Weitzman, the main lawyer for the Jackson estate, confirmed the settlement over the program The Last Days of Michael Jackson, Deadline reports. 

“The dispute with Disney has been amicably resolved,” Weitzman told Deadline.

Disney has not yet commented on the development.

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The Jackson estate claimed that the makers of the 2018 special did not ask permission to use Jackson’s image or music. The May 2018 legal action alleged unauthorized use of music videos, concert footage, documentary and more, according to Deadline. The estate also objected to use of the late pop star’s image in promotions related to the special.

ABC agreed to remove the promotional images, but asserted that everything else was available to the network under a doctrine from U.S. copyright law allowing “fair use.”

Before the settlement was reached, a jury trial was scheduled to begin later in December.

While the Jackson estate did not approve of the ABC treatment of Jackson’s last days, it has given the OK to a film of his life and has approved access to his music, sources told Deadline in November.

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The permission was secured by Graham King, producer of Bohemian Rhapsody, the story of late Queen star Freddie Mercury, Deadline reported. King’s company, GK films, has secured John Logan to write the script.

Jackson died in 2009 at 50-years-old. The Los Angeles County Coroner said the pop star died from a combination of drugs, including one frequently used as an anesthetic in surgery.

Deadline reported that the complexities of Jackson’s life would likely be part of the King film. Over the course of his adulthood, he dealt with allegations of sexual abuse of child companions and paid out settlements.