Both shows feature live footage from police ride-alongs, both are hosted by Dan Abrams, and both are produced by the same company.
A&E canceled “Live PD” — one of its top-rated shows — in June 2020, at the height of protests over the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Reelz debuted its version of the show last month. In the lawsuit, A&E argues that “On Patrol: Live” copies nearly every aspect of its own show’s format, down to specific catchphrases. The Reelz show even occupies “Live PD’s” old time slot.
A&E also noted that Abrams advertised the new show by saying that “‘Live PD’ is coming back.”
A&E’s lawyers argue that the new show is infringing on its copyright to “Live PD.”
The complaint states that A&E suspended production of new episodes amid the George Floyd protests, which it calls “that critical time in our nation’s history.”
“AETN, however, has never relinquished or assigned its rights to create episodes of ‘Live PD’ nor has it authorized anyone else to prepare derivative programs based upon ‘Live PD’ except as works made-for-hire,” the complaint states.
A&E’s lawyers sent cease and desist letters to Reelz and Big Fish Entertainment, the production company, in June and July. Reelz went ahead and broadcast the show, which it later said was watched by 3.5 million people.
“Cops” — the original police ride-along show — was also canceled during the 2020 racial justice protests, only to return earlier this year on Fox Nation, the entertainment streaming service from Fox News.
The suit seeks an injunction that would block further episodes of “On Patrol: Live,” as well as monetary damages.
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