A COUPLE of months ago we delved into the grey area where music and the legal system meet. It was in the wake of Men At Work running afoul of a kookaburra sitting in a gum tree, but that column barely scratched the surface.
So here's five more cases where plagiarism may or not have come into play.
Biz Markie vs Gilbert O'Sullivan
IF there's one case that helped shape modern music, it's this one in 1991, where Warner Bros went into bat for rapper Biz Markie over his sampling of Gilbert O'Sullivan's song Alone Again (Naturally). The use of uncleared samples was prevalent in hip-hop at the time, resulting in such unbridled sampling masterpieces as The Beastie Boys' Paul's Boutique and Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back - but this court case changed all that. The judge blasted Markie and Warners, saying 'thou shalt not steal' and forever setting in stone a new rule - get your samples cleared. Markie's next album title? All Samples Cleared.
Michael Bolton vs Isley Brothers
BACK when Michael Bolton was a chart-topper (1991), he had a hit with a song Love Is A Wonderful Thing. Unfortunately for him, R&B group The Isley Brothers almost had a hit with a song by the same name back in 1966. A court found the title wasn't the only similarity and awarded the Isleys the biggest plagiarism pay-out in history - $5.4 million. Bolton, who admitted to being an Isley Brothers fan but said he'd never heard the song in question, applied to appeal in 2001 but his application was rejected.
Johnny Cash vs Gordon Jenkins
YOU know that awesome Johnny Cash song Folsom Prison Blues, which is often held up as an example of Cash's songwriting genius? Well, he stole a lot of it from Gordon Jenkins, a pianist/composer/arranger. Just a couple of years before Cash penned Folsom Prison Blues, Jenkins wrote a concept album called Seven Dreams featuring the tune Crescent City Blues. Listen to the original and it's all pretty much there (all except for the awesome "shot a man in Reno/just to watch him die" line). In '68, Jenkins finally sued and Cash settled out of court.
The Offspring vs Agent Orange
SKATE-PUNK band The Offspring hit the big time in 1994 with their album Smash and the track Come Out And Play. The song was notable for its Arabian-sounding guitar hook, which fellow punk Mike Palm of Agent Orange claimed was a rip-off of his song Bloodstains. The Offspring took the rare step of appearing on a radio show and comparing the two songs, with singer Dexter Holland admitting "you can see why (Agent Orange is) suing us". But then they played another song - Panty Raid by Murphy's Law - which also sounded similar. The Offspring's manager said musicologists had studied the tracks and found "the only real similarity is the songs are in the same key and the same scale... our stance all along has been if we did anything wrong, sue us, and we'll pay." No one sued in the end, and The Offspring didn't have to pay.
Huey Lewis vs Ray Parker Jr
THE makers of Ghostbusters approached Huey Lewis to record the theme song for their movie in 1983. Lewis was busy working on music for the upcoming Back To The Future and declined, so the filmmakers did the next best thing - they got someone to rip Lewis off, in particular his latest hit I Want A New Drug. The similarities are obvious and Ghostbusters Theme writer Ray Parker Jr was sued and paid Lewis, although Parker later had his revenge when Lewis breached a confidentiality agreement about the suit, allowing Parker to counter-sue Lewis.
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