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To the surprise of no one, The Big Bang Theory is still putting up huge numbers on CBS, and this season’s main pull was watching what happened between Sheldon and Amy post-break-up and pre-hook-up. But it’s not all good news for the hit sitcom, as it’s currently in the middle of a lawsuit. And not about anything geeky either, but over the use of Sheldon’s favorite song when he’s feeling sick, “Soft Kitty.”
Here’s how the tricky situation is laid out. “Soft Kitty” is a similar version of the poem/song “Warm Kitty,” published by Edith Newlin back in 1937, and Warner Bros. apparently got in touch with the music company in 2007 and secured the rights. However, Newlin’s daughters Margaret and Ellen say that they were never contacted by Warner Bros., even though they are the rightful owners of the song. (Their claim, not mine.) So not only does Margaret say that she wants the studio to fork over whatever money she and her sister are entitled to, but she also wants the show to get slapped with a court order that prohibits the song from ever being used on there again.
A surface glance makes it seem like an understandable move from the sisters, but the details from TMZ weren’t exactly exhaustive. For one, it’s not clear if the sisters actually do own the rights to the song, or if the music company is the entity responsible for it; copyright laws have changed over the years, making a clear-cut assumption difficult. As well, Newlin’s “Warm Kitty” was itself an adapted version of an English children’s folk song, which was itself a soundalike of a German song. So there may be some additional issues when it comes to the actual origins and how those play into it. We assume the network’s legal team will leave no stone unturned.
It’s also strange that the sisters have waited eight years to bring this up, although it’s possible they were just unaware that “Soft Kitty” existed. There are lots of things I don’t know about from shows I don’t watch, so if any of them copied a song I wrote, I’d be completely in the dark. The song has also become a marketable piece of merchandise, so maybe one of the women was tipped off by a plush kitty or T-shirt at a department store.
Check out a montage of the show’s use of the song below, complete with Kaley Cuoco rubbing Jim Parsons’ chest.
If the show ends up coming to an end after Season 10, then we definitely wouldn’t be hearing “Soft Kitty” again in later years, but that’s not exactly helping out Newlin’s daughters. Now if only someone could figure out how to stop ”Smelly Cat” from ever playing again. Do you guys think the sisters have a chance to win this case?