Would you ever guess that Sheldon Cooper’s sleepy-time jam would become the source of a copyright lawsuit? Nevertheless, the daughters and heirs of New Hampshire teacher Edith Newlin are suing CBS and other media-related companies over “Soft Kitty” from The Big Bang Theory.
Ellen Newlin Chase and Margaret Chase Perry filed a “copyright infringement action” against the show’s producers, as well as CBS and their various partners. According to legal documents, “The lyrics – beginning with the words ‘Soft kitty, warm kitty’ (the ‘Soft Kitty Lyrics’) – were created as a poem by Edith Newlin, the Plaintiffs’ mother.” The lawsuit further accuses the producers and CBS of using the lyrics in their entirety without authorization to contribute to the show’s overall commercial success.
CBS did not immediately respond to EW’s request for comment.
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“Soft Kitty” has been sung by various characters on The Big Bang Theory. Penny (Kaley Cuoco) famously did so while playing nursemaid to a sick Sheldon (Jim Parsons). Fans will no doubt recognize the catchy tune.
The lawsuit states “The Soft Kitty Lyrics” were created in the 1930s and published by Willis Music Company in 1937 as part of the book Songs for the Nursery School. It further claims that Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and one of the show’s producers worked out a deal with Willis Music Company, though neither parties “could lawfully ‘secure the rights’.”
In May of this year, Kevin Cranley, president of Willis Music, posted a blog entry titled “Soft Kitty - Where does it come from?” to the company’s website. At the time, he confirmed “Soft Kitty” was published in Songs for the Nursery School, though he wrote the book “was written by Laura Pendleton MacCarteney.”
“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,” he continued. “The writers wanted the song because one of them remembered it as a child. They also wanted to slightly change the words and I’m really not sure of the reason for that change.”
Newlin’s daughters are seeking unspecified “remedies for willful copyright infringement.”