The struggle of right against might forms the central pillar of
the Lion King story but while this may be familiar to millions of
children (and their parents) around the globe, the real-world
struggle for justice that arose from the animated blockbuster is
less well-known outside of the intellectual property law
This situation has now been redressed thanks to the publication
of "Awakening the Lion – the case of the Lion Sleeps
Tonight" by copyright Professor Owen Dean.
Now retired from full-time practice, Prof. Dean continues to act
as a consultant to the firm while devoting much of his time and
energy to academe. He was a partner at Spoor & Fisher
when he took up the cause of the impoverished Linda family in their
fight for reparation arising from the rights to the
internationally-charted song, "The Lion Sleeps
Tonight". The melody had originally been composed by
Solomon Linda, who recorded the track in 1939. Having sold
away his rights for a pittance, Solomon Linda died virtually a
pauper in 1962. This was, however, not the end of the
Some 40 years later Prof Dean, acting as counsel for the family,
took on some giants of the entertainment world, including the Walt
Disney organisation. The result made headlines and
legal history – and now the twists and turns of this
courtroom battle royal have been chronicled in a book that is
fascinating and accessible to academics, students, members of the
entertainment industry and the lay reader.
A review of "Awakening the Lion" can be found here. This review is of particular value as it
also contains links to background documents relating to the case,
the various versions of the song and a BBC World Service podcast
outlining the genesis of Mbube and its subsequent evolution into
The Lion Sleeps Tonight.
"Awakening the Lion" by Prof. Owen Dean is published
by Tafelberg Publishers and the ebook is available from
Kalahari.com. and Leisure Books.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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