The Jackson estate stated that the producers of the 2018 special never sought permission to utilize Jackson’s image or music. The lawsuit, filed in May of 2018, alleged unauthorized use of music videos, concert footage, documentary, and more. The estate had also objected to the use of the late singer’s image in promotional materials that were related to the TV special. Although ABC agreed to remove the promotional images, they asserted that everything else was available to them via a doctrine from U.S. copyright law allowing “fair use.”
Michael Jackson’s estate alleged that the TV special, The Last Days of Michael Jackson used 30 different copyright-protected works without permission, including songs such as “Billie Jean”, “Beat It” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and parts of other music videos, including “Thriller” and “Black or White”.
“The dispute with Disney has been amicably resolved,” said Howard Weitzman, attorney for the Jackson estate, in a statement to Variety.
There is still another legal battle that the estate is currently having with HBO over the Leaving Neverland documentary. His estate claims that HBO broke a 1992 arbitration agreement stating that the network cannot make disparaging remarks about the singer or harm his reputation.
Billboard reports that the 1992 agreement states that “HBO shall not make any disparaging remarks concerning [Michael Jackson] … or do any act that may harm or disparage or cause to lower in esteem the reputation of [Jackson.]” In addition, the agreement contained a clause stating that all disputes regarding the agreement would be handled in arbitration. The network, however, argues that the 27-year-old agreement, which was signed when HBO aired Jackson’s Dangerous World Tour, no longer applies.
Months after Jackson died from an apparent drug overdose on June 25, 2009, his death was ruled a homicide by the Los Angeles County Coroner in August of that year. Law enforcement officials arrested and charged his personal doctor, Conrad Murray—who had supplied him with propofol, lorazepam, and midazolam—with involuntary manslaughter in 2010.