Disney lawyers lost over music copyright

8 09 2015

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Few contributed as much to the success of Lady and the Tramp as the singer and actress, Peggy Lee, who performed the role of the sultry Pekingese Peg, as well as the twin Siamese cats Si and Am. In his recent biography, Is That All There Is: The Strange Life of Peggy Lee, James Gavin details not only her many contributions to the animated classic’s music and voice tracks, but also to its storyline. . . .

According to Gavin, Lee made all of these contributions for a grand total of $4,500 in fees: $3,500 for the voices, and $1,000 for the songs she wrote — which was split with her co-songwriter, Sonny Burke. Gavin noted that this was a respectable sum in 1955, as no one at the time foresaw the fortunes to be had in home entertainment. Because Lee had an exclusive recording contract with Decca Records, her contract with Disney specified that Disney “retained no right to ‘make phonograph records and/or transcriptions for sale to the public.’” As used in the recording industry, “transcriptions” commonly referred to audio discs produced for radio broadcast, not for commercial sale.


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