Thursday, September 20, 2007

Did Avril Lavigne Plagiarize?

We have been discussing the finer points of copyright in class and, as I hope you see, it is very important and a very real concern in today's technological environment of new media. You have heard the two songs in class and now you can watch / listen to this montage that I found on YouTube. Read the articles posted on Homework Hero and duplicated here and come up with your own opinion. As always, refer to the specific aspects of the case in your response and engage with your peers in discussion. Sharing ideas with the class here will add depth to your own reflection and, ultimately, will make you more successful.

Required Readings for the Copyright Case Study
Jamelia Case Study Reading
Avril Lavigne Plagiarism Case
Avril Denies Plagiarism Case
Avril's Case and the Lawyers
Chantal Says She is Sorry
Chantal Retracts Her Criticism

Another Great Article with Some Interesting Statistics

Bonus Opportunity

After you post about the Avril / Rubinoos situation, do some research and find a copyright infringement case that we have not discussed in class. Post it here. It doesn''t have to be music related (but there are a lot of examples here), just something relatively high profile. Be sure to state the facts of the case, provide links (embed YouTube clips for us all to compare), and provide your own opinions based on your specific knowledge of the Copyright Act and the effect that infringement has on both the artist, and on the public as a whole.

  1. Brief posts will not count or be considered, but well thought-out and supported posts will earn you an extra 5% on the total of your next major project!
  2. You MUST post a comment on Avril's case as discussed in class and in your readings AND on something else of your own research! References in MLA format are required (try the citation engine at the bottom of Homework Hero).


Steve... said...

Based on what I've learned and what I've heard in class I think that even though Avril may have unknowingly and unintentionally copie the Rubinoos song, copright has still been broken. Dunbar says, "she took the heart and soul out of it". I think this means that when he heard her version he immediatly thought of his song and thought that her version was a complete "rip off". She changed it to fit her character and Tommy Dunbar seems like he just wants some recognition for the inspiration that ma have led Avril to write her hit song. I would have sued her too and because of this she could lose fans and sales.

Timbaland was also accused of plagiarism after he allegdly stole a beat from a Finnish artist named Janne Suni and used it to mix the song 'Do it' for Nelly Furtado.

Here is an article on the case.

Here is a video showing the similarities in the songs.

brittany said...

i think avril did plagerize because from the note we did you can only use 10% of the song or 30 seconds, and it cant make money or something like that but, avrils song is big from the chorus, and the choruses are so similar.

Mr. A. Puley said...

Excellent discovery, Steve. I found a nice follow-up to this involving Timbaland's "original" ringtones - Click Here. It seems that he has done this before. with all media texts, consider the triangle and go even deeper. Plus, what can we, the consumers, do about this?

Rachel said...

The similarities between Avril Lavigne's song and The Rubinoo's cannot be denied. The lyrics in the chorus are the same (more or less), and the tempo and beat are very similar. She claims that she had never heard the song before, but how can we ever know that for sure? She might just be saying that to avoid charges.
As Steve stated, Dunbar believed that the "heart and soul" was taken from the Rubinoos, and that is undeniable. "Hey hey, you you" is the part of both songs that catches your attention and makes you remember it. Because of this, Avril's song was a hit.

To keep with the ever-growing fascination with Britney Spears, I will bring up an example of a copyright case that surrounded her. In 2003, Michael Cottrill and Lawrence Wnukowski sued Britney because of a song titled "What You See Is What You Get."

Here is Britney's version of What You See Is What You Get.

I couldn't find Cottrill's version, but here is the entire case.

brittanylennox said...

I do agree with the comments being said about Avril, but i have to bring up her comment in one of the articles posted. In which, she says "Off the top of my head, i can immediatley think of with this type of lyric are 'Hey Hey, You You, get off my cloud' by the Rolling Stones, and 'Hey little girl I wanna be your boyfriend' by the Ramones." I can see how Rachel's and Steve's comments are without out a doubt crucial to the case, because she did infact use someone elses lyrics for her oen benifit, whether she knew about it or not. Although, Avril does bring up a good point. There are many songs in which you can find similar "heart and soul. I mean, try and listen to two 80s rock love songs, and not find atleast one similarity.

Elvedin Sljivar said...

Ya..... I think Avril didn't copie the Rubinoos because first of all she was not even born at the time and if you think about it how many teenagers listen to music that was made before they were born? So I think it's jsut a mistake anyone can think of those lyrics and the rythem isn't exactly the same their are differences.

Michelle said...

I'm not to sure what to belive when it comes to Avril and her song, She claims she didnt hear the song before, but can we really belive her? I guess that's where people take sides, you can either belive her or not. I personally dont think shes stupid enough to try and pull that. Who does that anyway? If she heard the song wouldnt she just ask to borrow it rather then steal it? All she had to do was ask and write it in her cd cover and its not like many people read the small print anyway. Everyone would have thought it was hers. At least i would have. Yeah the songs are similar but who said shes lieing? Maybe her song writer heard it before but is keeping quiet so they wont get in trouble. No one really knows, and no one really will. I guess it all comes down to if you want to believe her or not. At least thats where I stand.

Michelle said...

Here's a link to another copyright case. Ludacris and Kanye West were taken to court by a band called It's Only Family in June 2006. At issue was the phrase "like that" — used extensively in both Stand Up by Ludacris & Kanye and the 2001 tune Straight Like That by New Jersey rap group IOF.

brittanylennox said...

Keeping on the suject of Timbalands copyright faults, here's another. The Game & TIMBALAND are being sued by an Indian music and film company.

vollie said...

when people like avril make money people like the Rubinoos will sue for anything that sounds similar thats the case here the sonsg aren't the same and avril did not rip off the Rubinoos song! It was her own creation that sounded a bit like the Rubinoos song she did not know!

Mr. A. Puley said...


How do you know? Where did you come up with this conclusion? You have not included any of the information in regards to the specific case at hand. This comment is too general in scope. Think deeper about the material and JUSTIFY your opinions.

brittanylennox said...

DEFINATLY should check this out.

Theres techinically TWO different copywrite cases here.

One, idk if she could be charged, but why listen to someones songs who can be so easily mixed togethrer like this? Try some originality?

And two, yeah its a jok, but should you be aloud to use someones music like this for fame?

caroline said...

The resemblance between the two songs is obvious, whether it was a mistake or not. Avril basically has the same chorus (give or take a few words)as The Rubinoos and she's so clearly made a lot of money off the song, so The Rubinoos saw the similarity [slight as it may seem to some] and called her on. From what we've learned it's plagiarism, because, as stated the artist(s) are only allowed to use ten percent of another artists song, or 30 seconds, whichever is less, and considering it is a very crucial part of the song it seems to be plagiarism. Whether accidental or not is another story.

natalie said...

I personally think that Avril Lavigne copied the Rubinoos song in such a little way, that it should not be considered a problem. The two songs sound totally different and she only used a small part of the lyrics. I do understand that the lyrics that she did use were considered the "heart and soul" of the Rubinoos song, but still, they are two simple words "Hey, hey, you, you." So my final verdict on this question is that Avril Lavign did not plagiarize.
However the one thing that does bother me is the fact that she says she has never heard the Rubinoos song before, when it is obvivous that she has. The only other explanation is that her co-writer had heard the song, used the idea of there lyrics and did not tell Avril the source.
I can understand why the Rubinoos would place charges because she is making so much more money on her song than they ever did but still, jealously does not mean they should sue her.

Cassidy.. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
natalie said...

"she took the heart and soul out of it". These were the accusing words from rubinoos band member, Tommy Dunbar.Based on the the different arguements and defending statements i have heard, i am now torn between both sides. On one hand,as i listen to the rubinoos "hey you i wanna be your boyfriend" and avril lavignes"girlfriend" i come to notice that the songs seems to sound more and more familiar each time i hear them.Although the accusation is only based on 4-5 words, these lyrics are the chorus'S and most noticed parts of the songs.The fact that avril denies ever hearing the rubinos song, is highly unlikely. I am much yoinger then avril, and even i have heard the song. On the other hand, Avril does raise many valid points,the fact that avril was accused of taking the heart and soul from the rubinoos song,is ridiculous. Every song writer has their own style and "soul" of their music.

natalie said...

ps. that pervious comment is from carolyn


Marko Jovicic said...

Learning about copyright in class makes you wonder, why would people do it, if they know it's wrong? Well, it could be because the author in this case, Avril Lavigne didn't want to make songs that sort of mean the same thing and have one meaning, so she wanted to try something new. She took a risk, but coming up with the same song? Coincidence? No. She purposely plagerized the song from the Rubinoos, and even knew it was wrong, but went ahead and did it. Yes, she slightly changed the song a little, but if you listen carefully you could find the resembelence in both songs. Many people plagerize songs. I don't know why, but it may have something to do with the album sales of different authors. In example; if people were to like a song from an author and in this case, don't like Avril's songs, that may have lead to her plagerizing other peoples songs for money, sales, hits, and mostly fans. It makes sense when you put together what you know. Lastly, I think that if Avril tryed her best, and didn't have to plagerize anybody, she could have made a successful song, instead of losing friends, the court case, and fans.