If you have ever watched the show The Big Bang Theory on CBS then chances are you’ve heard the often-sung “Soft Kitty” song. That “little ball of fur” was being sued for copyright infringement. However, on Tuesday, a Southern District of New York judge approved a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre Productions that claimed the lyrics were an infringement of copyright.
The lawsuit against Warner Bros. and Chuck Lorre Productions was filed back in 2015 by two sisters, Ellen Newlin Chase and Margaret Chase Perry. The two sisters are the daughters of Edith Newlin, a former nursery school teacher, who passed away in 2004. The Newlin daughters believe the show stole the lyrics to “Soft Kitty” from their mother’s compilation “Songs for the Nursery School” which she wrote in 1937. Willis Music, who published Newlin’s nursery book, claim they actually own the rights to the song. A statement on their website reads —
“‘In 1937 we published a book called Songs for the Nursery School and we sold tens of thousands of copies. It is a hardbound book of over 150 songs for children. The book was written by Laura Pendleton MacCarteney. In that book on page 27 is ‘Warm Kitty’. Warner Brothers and I worked together to secure the rights for the show The Big Bang Theory and they have been using the song ever since.”
In the show, the cast often sings “Soft Kitty” to calm down the at-times social-inept. Sheldon when he is sick or stressed. Sheldon claims his mother used to sing him the song when he was young and sick. CBS recently announced that Sheldon will have his own spinoff show separate from The Big Bang Theory.
In his ruling, the judge decided that the lawsuit should be dismissed, claiming the Newlin daughters “have failed to establish that they own a valid copyright as necessary to state a copyright infringement claim.” Per FOX News.
Copyright infringement is the illegal use of works protected by copyright law under the federal Copyright Act. According to Perdue University there are three elements that must be in place in order for an infringement to occur –
- The copyright holder must have a valid copyright.
- The person who is allegedly infringing must have access to the copyrighted work.
- The duplication of the copyrighted work must be outside the exceptions.
The legal penalties for copyright infringement are as follows.
- Infringer pays the actual dollar amount of damages and profits.
- The law provides a range from $200 to $150,000 for each work infringed.
- Infringer pays for all attorneys fees and court costs.
- The Court can issue an injunction to stop the infringing acts.
- The Court can impound the illegal works.
- The infringer can go to jail.