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Did ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Rip Off a Dead Poet?

If you’re a fan of The Big Bang Theory, you’ve probably heard “Soft Kitty,” the lullaby characters often sing in the show. But you’ve probably never heard of “Warm Kitty,” a lullaby written by deceased New Hampshire poet and teacher Edith Newlin. A new lawsuit alleges that the writers of The Big Bang Theory did know about “Warm Kitty” – and ripped it off.

The heirs to Newlin’s estate are suing CBS, saying that the lyrics to “Soft Kitty” are a thinly disguised copy of those to “Warm Kitty.” Check out both versions and see for yourself:

The song has become a pretty iconic part of the show, with characters frequently singing it to humorous effect. CBS even sells items branded with the lyrics.

“Soft Kitty” and “Warm Kitty” certainly sound a lot alike, but the lawsuit may end up having less to do with that than with who owns the song. Willis Music, which published the song in the 1930s, licensed the song to CBS. The heirs will have to prove that they have a better claim to the work than the music publishing company does. If they can, CBS will have to pay up.