CBS are probably hoping it’s some kind of cruel ‘Bazinga’ practical joke, as reports suggest the network behind The Big Bang Theory is being sued for their use of the song ‘Soft Kitty’.
The words “Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur / Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr” are sung in several episodes, after Sheldon reveals his mother used to sing it to him as a child when he was sick.
Now, however, the daughters of the teacher who wrote the original nursery rhyme in the 1930s have filed the lawsuit against the network (as well as Warner Bros, Chuck Lorre Productions, Turner Broadcasting and Fox) claiming copyright infringement, alleging the show used the lyrics without permission.
As reported by the BBC, Ellen Newlin, from New Hampshire, wrote the lyrics to the original song which the show’s creators discovered in a book called ‘Songs for the Nursery School’, published in 1937.
Newlin’s daughters, Ellen Newlin Chase and Margaret Chase Perry, claim they were not consulted before Willis Music granted producers permission to use the rhyme, despite their mother owning its original copyright and passing it down to them in her will when she died in 2004.
The claim states:
The Soft Kitty lyrics are among the best-known and most popular aspects of The Big Bang Theory. They have become a signature and emblematic feature of the show and a central part of the show’s promotion.
The claim adds that the song has been used in at least eight episodes of the hit U.S. sitcom, and the lyrics used on numerous pieces of TBBT merchandise, including T-shirts and fridge magnets.
Newlin Chase and Chase Perry are seeking damages, profits and costs for the use of the song, as well as an immediate injunction on the use of ‘Soft Kitty’ in the show, which doesn’t bode well for the characters the next time Sheldon is ill and can’t get any sleep.
The producers of the show are also probably feeling pretty sick after this lawsuit was filed, and now they can’t even have ‘Soft Kitty’ sung to them to make them feel better!