Jackson's estate and Disney settle copyright dispute

LOS ANGELES • Lawyers of Michael Jackson’s estate alleged last year that Disney had ignored copyright law even as the company zealously prosecutes anyone who infringes its own intellectual property.

The two sides had been locked in a copyright dispute over a documentary about the late King of Pop.

The Last Days Of Michael Jackson, a two-hour programme that aired on Disney-owned ABC last year, was accused of using his songs, music videos, concert footage and clips of his memorial service without permission.

But, on Thursday, Jackson lawyer Howard Weitzman said: “The matter has been amicably resolved.”

No details were provided.

The estate’s lawyers previously said that “unable to make a compelling presentation about Jackson on its own, Disney decided to exploit the estate’s intellectual property”.

Disney argued that the documentary – a broad overview of Jackson’s life – made fair use of content including parts of 1982 hits Billie Jean and Beat It, as allowed under copyright law.

But the complaint noted that “Disney has threatened to sue independent childcare centres for having pictures of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck on their walls”.

Jackson is estimated to have sold 350 million records.

He died in June 2009 at age 50, while he was practising for a series of concerts in London. The cause was given as an overdose of the anaesthetic propofol.

His estate this year also filed a lawsuit against cable channel HBO for “character assassination” after its documentary Leaving Neverland alleged that he molested young boys at his ranch.

HBO has launched an appeal in its bid to dismiss the case.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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