The Big Bang Theory: The Most Unusual Legal Problem The Series Had To Overcome


In the first season of The Big Bang Theory, the song “Soft Kitty” debuted when Sheldon (Jim Parsons) forced Penny (Kaley Cuoco) to sing the song when she caught a cold. Knowing that she was comforting her friend, Penny took it upon herself to sing it a few more times later, when Sheldon felt depressed in an attempt to cheer him up.

For season 8, Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny used it as a lullaby in hopes of putting his friend to sleep after refusing to go to bed. The last time “Soft Kitty” was featured on the show was in season 10 when Amy (Mayim Bialik) sang the song to her stressed-out boyfriend in three different languages: English, German, and Mandarin.

While none of the shows have confirmed where it originated, the main idea was that it was an original creation of The Big Bang Theory. However, the melody of the song comes from a 19th century Polish lullaby called “Wlazł kotek na płotek” about a kitten on a fence, written by Oskar Kolberg and composed by Stanisław Moniuszko. The contemporary version of the song, on the other hand, is known as “Warm Kitty”, written by Edith Newlin. It appeared in a book titled Nursery Rhymes, first published in 1937 by Kentucky-based Willis Music. This was where the controversy surrounding “Soft Kitty” from The Big Bang Theory began.

In December 2015, Newlin’s estate headed by her daughters Margaret Perry and Ellen Chase filed a copyright lawsuit against Warner Bros., Chuck Lorre Productions, CBS, Turner Broadcasting, and Fox for allegedly illegal use of their work. his mother. In addition to using the song on the show, CBS also had a number of linked products that included Soft Kitty t-shirts, stuffed animals, key chains, coffee mugs, and hoodies, building on its popularity.

The case dragged on for a couple of years until a final verdict was rendered in March 2017, where a judge dismissed the lawsuit, explaining that the plaintiffs simply couldn’t prove they owned the copyright to Newlin’s lyrics. Citing section 24 of the Copyright Act 1909, the judge said it was not “a model of clarity”, as Willis Music’s 1964 renewal of registration for Songs for the Nursery School did not include copyright. by Newlin for “Warm Kitty”.

Interestingly, though, even if CBS won the case, the song was never used more prominently on both The Big Bang Theory and Young Sheldon, and both shows only featured it once after the debacle.