Nearly a decade after his passing, the death of Michael Jackson still rings and reverberates throughout the music industry and mainstream media. To perhaps coincide with the nine-year anniversary of his passing, ABC decided to air The Last Days of Michael Jackson. The two-hour primetime special, which explored the King of Pop’s life and legacy, drew ire, disapproval and backlash from Michael Jackson’s estate.
In a statement issued to the Associated Press on Wednesday, May 23, Jackson’s estate deemed the documentary another attempt to exploit the entertainer’s legacy without respect to his legacy or his children.
“We want consumers to know that The Last Days of Michael Jackson, a television special airing on ABC TV (a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company) tomorrow May 24, is not sponsored or approved by the Estate of Michael Jackson. It is particularly disheartening that Disney, a company known to strongly believe in protecting its own IP rights, would choose to ignore these rights belonging to the Estate,” the statement read.
The estate claims ABC used a copyrighted photo and silhouette image of Jackson owned by it to promote the primetime special.
“Only after notice from our attorneys to ABC News indicating they were infringing on our IP rights were the materials removed. 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,” the statement continued. The Last Days of Michael Jackson premiered Thursday night on ABC. The special is produced by ABC News, with David Sloan serving as senior executive producer and Muriel Pearson acting as executive producer.