Marvel, Disney’s Buena Vista Television, Amazon, Apple, and other companies are being sued for copyright infringement over the X-Men cartoon theme song from the ’90s. Zoltan Krisko filed the lawsuit yesterday in the Southern District of New York. He claims that the theme song “was heavily influenced” by the opening song of Linda, a show that aired in the Soviet Union from 1984-1991. The lawsuit also accuses several other companies that have produced, distributed, syndicated, or profited from the show as well.
Krisko represents the works of Linda’s composer Gyorgy Vukan who passed away in August of 2012. The song in question was registered and copyrighted in Hungary. In the lawsuit, Krisko says, “It was the ‘ideal’ target for theft, having been composed behind the Iron Curtain,” and, “The lack of internet at the time made the discovery of the infringement despite the substantial similarity between the two works considerably less likely.” It wasn’t until 2017 that Krisko became aware of the similarities of his client’s composition and the X-Men theme song. Krisko registered Vukan’s work immediately after realizing the infringement of the work.
The X-Men theme song is considered a classic. As the suit notes, “the soundtrack of X-Men is widely regarded as the most iconic soundtrack of any animation series in the 1990s.” And this is where this lawsuit gets interesting. Krisko claims that “The infringed copyrighted work is, in part, responsible for this financial success.” And by ‘this’ he means the cartoon, toy advertisements, and, of course, the multibillion-dollar film franchise that Disney just got the rights to.
The theme song has been featured in the cartoon, toy advertisements, and commercials for over twenty years now. Krisko is seeking unspecified damages for the numerous alleged instances of copyright infringement of his late client’s work. He says that he is ‘entitled to maximum statutory damages.’
Here are the two theme songs in question. Do you think they sound as similar as Krisko says?