"Lion Sleeps Tonight" Composer's Family Sues Disney

The family of THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT composer Solomon "Mbube" Linda has filed a suit against The Walt Disney Co. for the use of the song in the film, THE LION KING, reports VARIETY. The copyright infringement suit, filed in South Africa's Pretoria High Court, is for $1.6 million. Disney has until Aug. 12, 2004 to respond to the claims or be ruled against by default.

The suit was filed by the surviving three daughters of Linda's eight children: Elizabeth Gugu, Delphie Simangile and Filda Fikile. In 1962, Linda, at the age of 53, died poor. He had sold the rights to his song to a South African record company for one rand. His daughters claim that under the law in force in 1939 -- when their father recorded the song -- the rights should have gone back to them 25 years after his death.

The Pretoria High Court seized Disney's South African trademarks in early July pending the legal action over ownership of the song. If Disney loses the case, the court will have the right to sell off any Disney copyright until the money is recovered.

Disney's stance on the issue is that Linda's widow assigned all rights to the predecessor of Abilene Music Publishers.

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