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Estate-related litigation over song used in Big Bang Theory

The lyrics of a little lullaby about a cat went viral once they made an appearance in the sitcom "The Big Bang Theory." The song, often sung to calm one of the show's characters, became a hit with fans, who flocked to purchase merchandise featuring the lyrics. Now, a woman claims her mother wrote the song and that CBS has been using it without properly crediting her mother or compensating the estate.

According to reports, the original song was written over 80 years ago by a nursery school teacher. The song was also published, with byline credit, to the woman. The song appeared in a book called "Songs for the Nursery School," where it was reportedly noted that the author retained copyright for the work.

A lawsuit from the woman's heir now alleges that CBS did not maintain proper permission to use the song. The lawsuit is seeking an unstated amount in the case.

According to reports, CBS did seek permission from the publisher of the nursery song book. The publisher reportedly gave permission for the work to be used, even though the heirs claim that the publisher did not own the work or have the rights to give such permission. Other entities have also been named in a lawsuit in relation to this case.

The reason the lawsuit is just arising, despite the fact that the television show has been using the song lyrics for several years, is that the woman's daughter only discovered the use of the song and the relation to her mother when doing some research for an article. The case illustrates an important point about estate-related litigation: Sometimes, it's not too late to protect the rights of your family and its legacy.

Source: The Washington Times, "‘Big Bang Theory’ producers sued by poet Edith Newlin heirs over copyright," Larry Neumeister, Dec. 28, 2015

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