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Tuesday, 13 November, 2001, 17:59 GMT
Robbie faces damages for copying lyrics
Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams: New album due out on Monday
Robbie Williams has faced a demand for "punitive" damages following a court ruling that lyrics for one of the songs he co-wrote were "substantially" copied from the singer Woody Guthrie.

Every good man gets a little hard luck sometimes

Woody Guthrie's original version

London's High Court stated last October that Jesus in a Camper Van, co-written with Guy Chambers , was a breach of copyright from Guthrie's song I Am The Way, and of an adaptation of the song by Loudon Wainwright III.

The song appeared on William's highly successful second album I've Been Expecting You, as well as the US compilation The Ego Has Landed.

Even the Son of God gets it hard sometimes, especially when he goes round saying I am the way

Robbie's version

Now a judge has begun hearing legal argument on the amount of compensation to be awarded to the copyright holders, New York-based Ludlow Music.

It will have to be paid by Williams, Chambers, and the singer's record and publishing companies.

Ludlow's barrister, Pushpinder Saini, told Mr Justice Pumphrey that the music company had been willing from the outset of the dispute to grant a licence on condition that it received 50% of the royalties from the Williams song.

But the defendants, who offered no more than 25%, sanctioned release of the recording on the Chrysalis label without Ludlow's authority.

Mr Saini said: "Well before any commercial release of the album by Chrysalis, these defendants were fully aware that unless they agreed to Ludlow's licensing terms, they had no authority to permit the release."

He added that this conduct required the court's "condemnation" in the form of a punitive damages award over and above the basic 50% royalty.

Robbie Williams
Robbie won three Brits at the 2001 awards
"Persons in the position of the defendants must be deterred from infringing copyright," he said.

Williams and his record and publishing companies now face the trial to determine the amount of royalties or damages owed to the owners of the original copyright, Ludlow Music.

Guthrie's song, written in 1961, includes the line "Every good man gets a little hard luck sometimes" while the Loudon Wainwright version, described by the judge as a parody, ran: "Every Son of God gets a little hard luck sometimes, especially when he goes round saying he is the way."

In the Williams and Chambers song the lines were: "I suppose even the Son of God gets it hard sometimes, especially when he goes round saying I am the way."

See also:

02 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Robbie 'copied' folk song
19 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Robbie video banned for 'Satanism'
27 Feb 01 | Music
Robbie's decade of reinvention
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