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Hollywood Stole His Tune, Irvine Man Says

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A plastic surgeon from Irvine is suing some of Hollywood’s biggest outfits, including Steven Spielberg’s company, asserting that a melody he wrote to get over the death of his baby daughter was used as the theme music for “Jurassic Park.”

Dr. Donald I. Altman says film composer John Williams (“Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones”) “intentionally or unintentionally” copied the melody that Altman composed in 1990, five years after his daughter drowned in a neighbor’s pool.

For the record:
12:00 AM, Jun. 15, 1996 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday June 15, 1996 Orange County Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Orange County Focus Desk 1 inches; 36 words Type of Material: Correction
Copyright suit--A headline Friday on a story about a copyright infringement lawsuit misstated the scope of the case. The plaintiff alleges that the composer for the theme music for “Jurassic Park” “intentionally or unintentionally” copied the melody.

“When people hear Altman’s [melody], whether it’s children or adults, the one thing they say is ‘That’s “Jurassic Park,” ’ " said Altman’s attorney, Paul J. Wallin of Santa Ana.

Wallin said a federal copyright infringement lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana on Monday names Williams as a defendant along with MCA Inc., which holds the “Jurassic Park” soundtrack copyright, and Amblin Entertainment, the company owned by Spielberg, who directed and produced the film.

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Altman is seeking at least $5 million in damages and an injunction barring MCA from further use of the composition.

Williams’ attorney, Jay Cooper, said he has not received the suit. Amblin referred comments to MCA, where a spokeswoman said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Wallin said Altman’s “Jacob’s Song (Love Forever),” dedicated to the doctor’s youngest son, was copyrighted in 1991, two years before MCA received its copyright for “Jurassic Park.” Wallin said he has evidence indicating that Williams had “access” to Altman’s song, but refused to elaborate, though he said he might do so at a press conference Monday.

Altman, 43, who plays piano, was “horribly affronted” that a song he wrote in tribute to his deceased daughter was associated with toys and other products reaping millions of dollars for “Jurassic Park’s” producers, Wallin said. Altman also was shaken when his three children, all 10 and younger, asked why their father’s song was played in the movie.

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Altman waited until now to sue, Wallin said, because he needed time to contact musicologists, whom Wallin would not name, to concur that the “Jurassic Park” theme and “Jacob’s Song” are “virtually identical.”


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