Disney Sued For Back Royalties Over Use of “The Bare Necessities” in The Jungle Book

The simple “bare necessities” apparently include a cut of some hefty royalties for the heirs of the composer.  Last week, the children of songwriter Terry Gilkyson filed suit against the Walt Disney Company in Texas State court. Gilkyson was responsible for the signature The Jungle Book tune “The Bare Necessities.” Now, his children seek allegedly unpaid royalty payments from the over 4 million The Jungle Book DVDs and videos already sold by Disney as well as any future sales.
The suit revolves around a 1967 agreement between Gilkyson and Disney outlining how Gilkyson would be paid for his musical contributions. According to the suit, the agreement states that Disney would pay Gilkyson “50% of the net amount received by [Disney’s] music publisher on account of licensing or other disposition of the mechanical reproduction rights in and to materials written by” Gilkyson. At the time of the agreement, it is unlikely that either party contemplated technological advancements such as VHS, DVD or Blu-ray discs, but the Gilkyson children argue that “mechanical reproduction rights” under the agreement include such formats. As a result, Gilkyson’s children claim they are entitled to royalties from Disney’s The Jungle Book DVD, released in 2007, of which their father’s music is a principal feature. The Gilkyson children claim breach of contract, unjust enrichment and breach of fiduciary duty. Further they seek damages and a declaratory judgment that they are entitled to royalties from sales of The Jungle Book “on DVD, Blu-ray, and any similar medium, nationally and internationally, now and in the future.” A cut of these royalties will buy Gilkyson’s heirs a lot more than a loincloth, they might actually be able to afford a talking bear.