A Big Hug Over Barney's Song -- Deal Reached To End Lawsuit

EVERETT - The controversy over Barney the dinosaur's theme song appears to be all but extinct.

Barney's producers and an Everett publisher have agreed verbally to settle a lawsuit over the rights to the popular character's "I Love You" song. A formal settlement for an undisclosed amount will be drawn up within a month, a lawyer for the prehistoric potbelly confirmed.

Jean Warren of Warren Publishing House Inc. said she is "very pleased" with the proposed settlement.

Warren claimed she bought the rights to the lyrics - set to the tune of "This Old Man" - from an Indiana woman, who also has reached a tentative settlement with Barney. In 1983, Warren offered the woman $5 or two copies of the song book in which they appeared, and the budding lyricist opted for the latter.

Warren sued for copyright infringement, naming as defendants the Lyons Group of Dallas, Barney's owner, and marketers of the dinosaur's products, including JC Penney Co. and Time-Life Inc. Warren's lawyer thought the suit caused Barney to drop the song temporarily.

The Lyons Group denied stealing the song and said that the suit had no bearing on the purple beast's musical repertoire.

"The use of that song will continue. We haven't changed anything as a result of the lawsuit," said Barney spokesman Russell Mack.

The case was scheduled for trial in federal court this fall. In the proposed settlement, no party admits wrongdoing.

Many adults are puzzled by the popularity of the lyrics: "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family, with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won't you say you love me, too?"

But Mack says the song's magic lies in its soothing repetition. Children draw comfort from the innocent message, much as they do from Barney himself, he said.

The Public Broadcasting Service show, "Barney and Friends," is the most popular children's program in the country, with hundreds of millions of dollars in related product sales and $50 million in licensing revenues for the Lyons Group.