I'm a music arranger, and I am preparing a series of string quartet pieces. I want to use an "Inspired by the Netflix series 'Bridgerton'" phrase (or some such phrasing) on the packaging and search strings. Is this legal?

  • Does the "inspired" refer to the events, locations, characters, etc. of the series, or does it refer to the theme or incidental music used in the series? That would make a huge difference. – Ray Butterworth Feb 4 at 13:37
  • It also makes a difference who you are. The Beatles' "Lady Madonna" was obviously inspired by Elvis Presley's musical style. Elvis later accepted this tribute by performing it himself: Elvis Presley - Lady Madonna (The Beatles) 1970 - YouTube – Ray Butterworth Feb 4 at 13:40
  • @RayButterworth that doesn't seem to be relevant at all. Why do you think it is? – phoog Feb 5 at 4:36
  • @phoog, I'm saying that if you write a song that's too much like someone else's, they might let you get away with it if you are famous enough. The best example is Gordon Lighghtfoot's not suing for plagiarism of his 1969 "If You Could Read My Mind". Michael Masser's 1977 "The Greatest Love of All" contains 24 bars that are almost identical to his music, but Lightfoot didn't sue because he didn't want to embarrass Whitney Houston, who performed the most popular version of it. The Greatest Love of All - Wikipedia – Ray Butterworth Feb 5 at 14:25
  • @RayButterworth as far as I understand the question it's not about writing a piece of music that's similar to another piece of music but rather about writing a piece of music that is "inspired by" some other non-musical work. Certainly if there is infringement, the fame of the infringer may factor into the decision about whether to sue or not (in favor of either option). But the question here, judging from its title, is about trademark rather than copyright, and it doesn't seem to be a trademark infringement. – phoog Feb 6 at 0:40

What you need to ask yourself is: Could they sue you, and what would it cost me? Would they want to sue me? Would they win? And what would that cost me?

If they sue you, even if they don't win, it can cost you a lot more money than you can afford. This is not a risk that I would take.

(Whether they would win depends on how you present their name, and whether they can convince a judge that you use their name to make people wrongly think that you are connected to the film series).

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