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Big Bang Theory producers sued for breaching copyright of ‘Soft Kitty’ nursery rhyme

The producers and broadcasters of US sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’ are being sued for using nursery rhyme ‘Soft Kitty’ in their show without the original author’s permission.

The song was written by Edith Newlin, a nursery school teacher from Alstead, New Hampshire in the late 1930s. Her daughters Ellen Newlin Chase and Margaret Chase Perry filed a lawsuit on Monday claiming they were not consulted before the producers used the rhyme on the show.

Their mother owned the original copyright for the song and passed it down to her two daughters in her will following her death in 2004.

The creators of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ discovered the song in a book ‘Songs for the Nursery School’, first published by the Kentucky-based Willis Music in 1937. Newlin’s daughters claim they were not consulted before Willis Music granted producers permission to use the rhyme in the show.

Warner Bros, Chuck Lorre Productions, CBS, Turner Broadcasting and Fox are among those named in the lawsuit.

TMZ posted a picture of the original Newlin lyrics page. In the show, the song's opening line is, "Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur..." In Newlin's version, the song is called Warm Kitty and starts, "Warm kitty, soft kitty, little ball of fur."

'Soft Kitty' is sung in several episodes by the cast after Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons, teaches Penny the rhyme. The daughters' lawsuit states the lyrics have been used in at least eight episodes of the show since March 2008.

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."

As well as featuring in the show, the lawsuit states 'Soft Kitty' lyrics have been used on show merchandise, including on clothing, mouse pads, mobile phone covers, wallets, air fresheners, refrigerator magnets, singing plush toys and other products.

What's more, producers and actors from the sitcom sang the lyrics along with large audiences at "three or more" Comic-Con conventions since 2010.

As well as compensation for damages, profits and legal costs, the daughters are seeking an immediate injunction on the use of 'Soft Kitty' on the show or anything associated with it.