Free Bird

There was a time when drug abuse and inciting riots were the cited as the most prevalent acts of illegalities in rock and roll. Then copyright law caught up. I recently read the case of Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc., 510 U.S. 517 (1994), which involves plagiarism. What is particular (or ridiculous) is that in the aforementioned case, the author of the song, is the person accused of plagiarism. The good ol’ boy in question is John Fogarty of Credence Clearwater Revival.

The facts of the case are that Fogerty assigned the copyright for his song “Run through the Jungle” to Fantasy Records. Later he wrote “Old Man Down the Road” that was distributed by Warner Bros. and that Fantasy claimed was derived from “Jungle.”

The District Court rejected Fogerty’s claim that he was immune from claims of copyright infringement of “Jungle” given his interest in the economic success of the earlier work; a jury later found that “Old Man” was not unfairly derivative of “Jungle.”

It has been widely noted in the annals of rock and roll that Fogarty had a personal grudge against Saul Zaentz, chairman of Fantasy, Inc., the label that owned the copyrights to most of the songs. Fogerty recorded with his pop group Credence Clearwater Revival . Fogerty hits back… records the song “Vanz Kant Danz”.. the chorus goes like, “Vanz can’t dance, but he’ll steal your money, Watch him or he’ll rob you blind (x 4)”. Moral of the story : you just cant keep a free bird down.

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