Disney and Michael Jackson estate settle documentary dispute

Michael Jackson died in June 2009 at age 50, while he was practising for a planned series of concerts in London. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Disney and Michael Jackson's estate have resolved 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 in 2018, was accused of using his songs, music videos, concert footage and clips of his memorial service without permission.

On Thursday (Dec 19), Jackson lawyer Howard Weitzman said: "The matter has been amicably resolved." No details were provided.

The Jackson estate's lawyers alleged last year that Disney had ignored copyright law while zealously prosecuting anyone who infringed on its own intellectual property.

"Unable to make a compelling presentation about Jackson on its own, Disney decided to exploit the Jackson Estate's intellectual property," read the complaint.

Disney argued that the documentary - a broad overview of Jackson's life - made fair use of content including parts of 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 planned series of concerts in London. The cause was given as an overdose of the anaesthetic propofol.

His estate this year filed a lawsuit against 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.

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