Art and culture

Harry Deansway’s Baby Cow Copyright Lawsuit Heading to Trial

Comedian Harry Deansway’s infringement case against Steve Coogan’s production company Baby Cow is going to trial, Variety can confirm.

Numerous attempts to reach an out of court settlement collapsed and a trial date has been tentatively set for Oct. 2024.

Deansway, whose real name is Joshua Rinkoff, filed suit against Baby Cow last year in the U.K. High Court, claiming that the prodco’s head of comedy Rupert Majendie had copied the format of his YouTube show “Shambles” to develop the stand-up series “Live at the Moth Club.”

Majendie is the creator of “Live at the Moth Club,” which aired on UKTV in December 2022, and is also credited as an executive producer and director.

“It is extremely disappointing that my friend Rupert Majendie, head of comedy at Steve Coogan’s Baby Cow should have copied my original work like this without so much as courtesy call,” Deansway told Variety in a statement. “That it was done by a friend and collaborator in the industry is just deeply saddening. What makes it so much worse is that by standing up for my principles I am having to go head to head with every comedian’s comic idol Steve Coogan, I can’t help wondering how he would have felt if someone had copied one of his early characters when he was just starting out and then tried to allege that this was perfectly legal. I’ve been shocked and appalled by Baby Cow’s strategy of denial when in my opinion the the show has been so obviously copied.”

Keystone Law’s media litigation partner Lawrence Abramson is representing Deansway in the proceedings.

“Shambles,” which featured appearances from such comedians as Aisling Bea and Dan Schreiber, was released on YouTube in 2013 and ran for two seasons. According to Deansway, “Live at the Moth Club” bears many similarities to “Shambles,” including characters, storylines, jokes and settings.

A rep for Baby Cow, which is majority owned by BBC Studios, did not respond to Variety‘s request for comment on the move to trial by publication time but after the suit was filed by Deansway last year, a spokesperson for the prodco told Variety: “We strongly refute this claim, which has no legal merit.”

The production company, which Coogan set up with producer Henry Normal in 1999, is also currently defending another lawsuit brought by historian Richard Taylor. Taylor is suing Baby Cow, Coogan and Pathe Productions over what he claims is an unflattering depiction of him in 2022 film “The Lost King.”

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