Bobby Brown’s lawsuit against the makers of a documentary about his late wife Whitney Houston has been dismissed. Brown, along with the managers of the estate of his and Houston’s late daughter Kristina Bobbi Brown, filed a lawsuit against BBC and Showtime chiefs over the 2017 Whitney Houston documentary, “Whitney: Can I Be Me.”
They claimed footage from his 2005 reality TV series “Being Bobby Brown” was used without authorization and were demanding $2 million in compensation, and a ban on the film’s distribution. However, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen McMahon ruled that the film is protected under America’s First Amendment free speech protections and said that filmmakers didn’t need permission to use the R&B star’s likeness.
Houston passed away in 2012 after she was found unconscious and submerged in water in a bathtub in her hotel room in The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California.
“‘Whitney: Can I Be Me,’ by virtue of being an expressive work, is protected under the First Amendment,” her ruling reads. “Here, Defendants and the film’s directors, producers, and associated creative staff drew upon the raw materials of Whitney Houston’s life story and created a film depicting that story. Courts applying California law have consistently held that films and television programs based on true events are constitutionally protected expressive works.”
The claim over the allegedly unauthorized footage was ruled not to be a federal matter, meaning Brown could potentially pursue that claim in a state court.
She was 48 years old. Bobbi Kristina died in 2016, at the age of just 22, after spending six months in a coma after she was found face down in a bathtub in eerily similar circumstances to her mother. The hitmaker’s life and career, including her and her husband’s battles with drugs, were also the subject of an authorized 2018 documentary, titled “Whitney.”