Kimberly Wilkins of Oklahoma City, known on the Internet as Sweet Brown, whose colorful description of her experience in a fire was widely parodied and manipulated in cyberspace, is suing all those who used her likeness without authorization and capitalized on her instant celebrity.
Brown is suing software giant Apple, an Oklahoma radio show and a host of other parties who used her likeness without permission. The suit, which was initially filed in Oklahoma County in June 2012, has since been moved to the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma.
She became an Internet sensation in April 2012, garnering more than 28 million views on one version of the video after being interviewed on News Channel 4 following a blaze in her apartment complex.
After the interview aired in a news broadcast, her words– “Oh Lord Jesus it’s a fire,” “I got bronchitis” and “Ain’t nobody got time for that”– and mannerisms during the brief interview have been used in remixes, parody videos and mimes all over the web.
The lawsuit is based on a song “I Got Bronchitis,” produced by Seattle, Wash.-based radio station KJR’s The Bob Rivers Show, which incorporated samples from the interview. The song was then sold on Apple’s iTunes for profit. The suit also claims the radio program and owner falsely advertised Brown had given her consent to the tune.
Since the interview, Brown has become the star commercial of a local dental office, Shortline Dental, released in early February 2013. She has also reportedly been approached by filmmaker Tyler Perry to appear in a Madea Christmas film.