ABC News: Jackson Special Doesn't Infringe

ABC News says its Michael Jackson special, The Last Days of Michael Jackson, does not infringe on the estate of the late pop star, but removed an image from its promos.

In an email to B&C, a representative of the estate said that the show, which airs Thursday (May 24), said it wanted viewers to know that the special was not authorized by the estate and that Disney had "ignored" its intellectual property rights by using a copyrighted photo and silhouette image owned by the estate in promotional material.

Removing the image did not assuage the estate.

Related: ABC News Moves on 24/7 Streaming Network

"Only after notice from our attorneys to ABC News indicating they were infringing on our IP rights were the materials removed," the representative said in a statement. "We are told ABC intends to use music and other intellectual property owned by the Estate such as photos, logos, artwork, and more in the program itself, without having licensed the rights to any such material. Imagine if this was done with any of ABC's intellectual property. 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."

“ABC News’ documentary explores the life, career and legacy of Michael Jackson, who remains of great interest to people worldwide," ABC News said in a statement. "The program does not infringe on his estate’s rights, but as a courtesy, we removed a specific image from the promotional material.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.