Michael Jackson Estate Sues Disney Over Unauthorized ABC Special

May 31, 2018

The Estate of Michael Jackson filed a federal copyright infringement lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company and ABC TV, alleging the companies used dozens of copyrights without permission when the TV network aired The Last Days of Michael Jackson last week. 

The suit claims the two-hour, unauthorized special – which alleged that Jackson planned his comeback tour to get out of debt and that he regularly took surgery-ready levels of Propofol – used "Billie Jean," "Beat It," "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and several other songs without permission. It also said that the show used "substantial portions" of Jackson's music videos, footage that the estate owned of the singer's live performances from the Jacksons' "Triumph" tour and other gigs, a clip from a Spike Lee–directed doc and footage from the film Michael Jackson's This Is It.

Variety reports that The Last Days of Michael Jackson was the most-watched program in the Thursday time slot, attracting 5.6 million viewers. The special contained never-before-seen interviews that Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer conducted with Jackson.

Prior to its airing, the estate issued a statement condemning the doc: "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."