Friday, July 06, 2007

Avril Lavigne - alleged infringer

Being sued for copyright infringement can be interesting if you are big time.

Avril is - of course- a big time international star.

And she's being sued. Her song is called "Girlfriend" and it goes on and on about "I wanna be your Girlfriend". She's being sued by members an old 70' s band called the Rubinoos, who had a song called "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend." The two songs are side by side here. The songs are far from identical - but beyond that I won’t comment. The litigation is in the USA - where almost anything can happen in the courts.

Terry McBride of Nettwerk Managment - Avril’s manager and a real hero and leader of the Canadian Indies who broke with CRIA last year - talks rather frankly about the litigation in Billboard, here. Perhaps more frankly than he should - but I'm not his copyright lawyer. And he didn't ask me. And he’s a pretty smart guy. Interestingly, another one of his big star acts, Chantal Keviazuk has also been accusing Avril of song theft - though she hasn't sued.

The interesting thing is that I just heard the Boyfriend song on some MOR station in some commercial space I was in today - and I expect both songs will do really well now. Girlfriend is #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 list and doing really well.

Even George Harrison lost a big copyright infringement case over My Sweet Lord. It didn't hurt his career one bit.

As long as it doesn’t involve outright plagiarism, getting sued for copyright infringement is not necessarily bad for a super star’s career.

So everyone could win here. And the Rubinos may come out of obscurity and hopefully get a prettier web site.

As they sometimes say in show biz, all publicity is good publicity.....



  1. This case has caught my eye. It reminds me a bit of the Michael McDonald situation involving the song "I Keep Forgettin" and it's similarity to the Leiber/Stoller song of the same title. While it is unlikely that there was any intentional infringement, like in the Leiber/Stoller situation, it wouldn't surprise me if Avril ends up having to relinquish some share of the copyright ownership. I do hope that she does not have to pay any punitive damages.

    After listening to the two songs, Avril's "Girlfriend" doesn't sound like any more of a rip off of The Rubinos' "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" than The Rubinos' tune sounds like a rip off of The Rolling Stones' "Get Off of My Cloud."

    The "Hey, You" shout-out is a bit of a pop rock staple. Hopefully this doesn't turn into a big mess.

  2. Artists suing artists over copyright infringement is more a publicity stunt than anything else.

    Avril Lavigne has obviously MADE IT, otherwise there would be no point in suing....