Heirs to New Hampshire teacher sue 'Big Bang Theory' producers

NEW YORK -- The heirs to a New Hampshire teacher who wrote a poem about a "soft kitty" eight decades ago said in a lawsuit Monday that TV's "The Big Bang Theory" is violating their copyrights.

See Full Article

Edith Newlin's daughters sued CBS and other media-related companies over the copyright to a song the lawsuit says has repeatedly been used on the hit sitcom.

According to the lawsuit, "The Big Bang Theory," one of the highest-rated shows on television, used lyrics written by Newlin in the 1930s without buying the rights. The lyrics begin: "Soft kitty, warm kitty."

"The Big Bang Theory" characters have periodically sung a lullaby involving that phrase, often to comfort theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons.

A spokeswoman for CBS declined to comment. Messages seeking comment from other companies sued by Ellen Newlin Chase and Margaret Chase Perry were not immediately returned Monday.

Edith Newlin died in 2004. She had worked as a nursery school teacher in Alstead, New Hampshire, for about 35 years. Her daughters still live in the small town.

The daughters' lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages from the show's producers and distributors, says the "soft kitty" lyrics have been used in their entirety on at least eight episodes of the show since March 2008. It says the lyrics also have been used in merchandising, including being displayed in their entirely on T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, pajamas, mouse pads, mobile phone covers, wallets, air fresheners, refrigerator magnets, singing plush toys and other products.

And it says the defendants not only have failed to credit Newlin but have sometimes made it appear as if the lyrics were written by one of the show's producers.

"The Soft Kitty Lyrics are among the best-known and most popular aspects of 'The Big Bang Theory,'" the lawsuit says. "They have become a signature and emblematic feature of the show and a central part of the show's promotion."

At three or more Comic-Con conventions since 2010, producers and actors from the sitcom led large audiences in singing the lyrics, the lawsuit says.

According to the lawsuit, Ellen Newlin Chase learned of the show's use of the lyrics in August 2014, when she was researching her mother's history for an article she was writing and came across a blog post discussing the use of the lyrics on the show.

The lawsuit says Warner Bros. Entertainment and the show's other producers decided in 2007 that they wanted to use the lyrics and sought permission from Willis Music Co., a Florence, Kentucky-based company that had published them in a book, "Songs for the Nursery School."

The lawsuit says Willis Music authorized use of the lyrics without consulting or getting permission from Newlin's heirs even though the book makes clear on its acknowledgement page and where the lyrics appear that Newlin was the author of and owned the copyright to the lyrics.

Messages for comment left with Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., based in Burbank, California, and Willis Music were not immediately returned.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Police: Stalker broke into Taylor Swift's NYC home and took a nap

    Entertainment CBC News
    Police say a stalker broke into Taylor Swift's New York City townhouse and took a nap. Police say officers investigating a reported break-in Friday found 22-year-old Roger Alvarado asleep in the pop star's home in the Tribeca neighborhood. Source
  • Stalker broke into Taylor Swift's NYC home and took a nap: police

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Police say a stalker broke into Taylor Swift's New York City townhouse and took a nap. Police say officers investigating a reported break-in Friday found 22-year-old Roger Alvarado asleep in the pop star's home in the Tribeca neighbourhood. Source
  • 'Smallville' actress pleads not guilty in sex trafficking 'guru to stars' case

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- A television actress best known for playing a young Superman's close friend pleaded not guilty Friday to sex trafficking after federal prosecutors said she worked as a slave "master" recruiting unsuspecting women to a cult-like group led by a man who sold himself as a self-improvement guru to the stars. Source
  • Smallville actress charged with sex trafficking offence relating to NXIVM group accused of branding women

    Entertainment CBC News
    Federal prosecutors say a television actress best known for playing a young Superman's close friend has been charged with sex trafficking for helping recruit women to be slaves of a man who sold himself as a self-improvement guru. Source
  • Loreena McKennitt is deleting Facebook

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Singer Loreena McKennitt says she's shutting down her Facebook profile over concerns for her fans' privacy. The Manitoba-born performer, known for her 1997 hit "The Mummers' Dance," told her 547,000 Facebook followers that she will close the fan page on June 1. Source
  • Springsteen 'Born to Run' manuscript heads to summer auction

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Bruce Springsteen's songwriting scrawl is born to make bucks. Sotheby's said Friday that it will auction a handwritten working manuscript of "Born to Run" in June. The presale estimate for the single sheet of notebook paper with 30 lines of writing is $200,000 to $300,000. Source
  • Producer and DJ known as Avicii has been found dead

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The Swedish-born producer and DJ known as Avicii has been found dead in Oman. Publicist Diana Baron said in a statement that the 28-year-old DJ, born Tim Bergling, was in Muscat, Oman. Source
  • Avicii, DJ and EDM producer, found dead at 28

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The Swedish-born producer and DJ known as Avicii has been found dead in Oman. Publicist Diana Baron said in a statement that the 28-year-old DJ, born Tim Bergling, was in Muscat, Oman. Source
  • Avicii, EDM producer and DJ, dead at 28

    Entertainment CBC News
    The Swedish-born producer and DJ known as Avicii has been found dead in Oman. Publicist Diana Baron said in a statement that the 28-year-old, who was born Tim Bergling, was in Muscat, Oman. "The family is devastated and we ask everyone to please respect their need for privacy in this difficult time," the statement said. Source
  • 'Scandal' cast participates in live reading of final episode

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Kerry Washington hopes that when people look back on "Scandal," they remember the show as courageous and bold. The woman who made the character Olivia Pope a household name spoke about the ABC series' impact as it aired its final episode after seven seasons on Thursday. Source