Disney no longer king of the jungle
The Lion King may be set to turn around and bite the house of mouse firmly in the behind.
13:47 08 September 2004
The Lion King, one of the crowning commercial and artistic glories in Disney's long and illustrious history, may be set to turn around and bite the house of mouse firmly in the behind.
The claims follow news that Walt Disney has lost its court bid to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a South African family seeking royalties to the song The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
The catchy song features in a memorable scene from the Oscar winning tale of lion cub Simba's quest to realise his life purpose as king of the pridelands, in which his new found sidekicks Timon and Pumbaa, a meer cat and warthog respectively, trek through the jungle performing their own unique rendition of the jungle-themed classic.
The heirs of Solomon Linda, who composed the original Zulu tune, are seeking 10 million rand ($2.17 million) in damages from Disney alleging that they have profited from the song without adequately acknowledging its author, having only paid $15,000 in total.
Disney's application to cancel a court order stating that its trademarks in South Africa can be sold to collect damage money has been dismissed this week by a court in Pretoria.
Lawyers representing Disney assert that the company did not infringe on the copyright of the Linda estate and that certain "material facts" were not disclosed to the court.
The ruling could have widespread implications for other South African musicians, authors and artists who may have sold their rights without being aware of their entitlements, opening the door to new copyright claims and infringement allegations.
South African lawyers representing the Linda estate began legal proceedings against Disney earlier this year. Disney has made an estimated $15 million in royalties from the song Mbube, since it was composed in 1939.