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The heirs to a poet who claim their mother wrote a poem popularized in the TV series The Big Bang Theory are suing CBS and others connected to the sitcom for allegedly using the “soft kitty” lyrics without their permission on at least eight episodes.
The lawsuit, filed last Wednesday in a New York federal court, claims that the lyrics beginning with “Soft kitty, warm kitty” were created by Edith Newlin some eight decades ago and published in 1937 in a book called Songs for the Nursery School. The suit says the book’s copyright registration was renewed in 1964, which “served also to register and renew” Newlin’s copyright.
“Defendants have used the Soft Kitty Lyrics without authorization in their entirety as an emblematic feature of The Big Bang Theory, contributing materially to the program’s enormous success, and in promotion and advertising for the show,” according to the suit (PDF). “Defendants have also used the Soft Kitty Lyrics in their entirety on a wide range of merchandise items, from t-shirts to air fresheners, as part of one of the largest global licensing and merchandising programs ever mounted for a live-action television series.”
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