Monday, February 20, 2006

The Lion Sleeps

'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' is apparently one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century. There were nearly 180 versions, and it was also included in 14 films and a very popular West End/Broadway musical. Yet the original creator, Solomon Linda, never benefited from its success. Linda recorded the song sometime in the 1930s in Johannesburg, a time when blacks were not allowed to receive roylaties. He and his band were given a small amount of money for the rights to the song, which became an instant hit in South Africa. The Weavers popularised the song in the US in the 1950s and a version recorded by The Tokens in 1961 went to number one in the US charts. Solomon Linda died in poverty less than a year later.

Linda's family, however, have now settled a legal dispute with Disney and other US rights holders agreeing to pay compensation in the six figure bracket, including "back payments for royalties as well as future payments."

Nice to see copyright serving the underdog for a change.

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