BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: Entertainment
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Showbiz 
Music 
Film 
Arts 
TV and Radio 
New Media 
Reviews 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Monday, 2 October, 2000, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Robbie 'copied' folk song
Robbie Williams
Robbie Williams and collaborator Guy Chambers face damages
Pop singer Robbie Williams "substantially copied" a song originally written by Woody Guthrie, the High Court has ruled.

The Williams song Jesus in a Camper Van, co-written with Guy Chambers, was a breach of copyright of the late Guthrie's song I Am The Way, and of an adaptation by Loudon Wainwright III, a judge decided.


Every good man gets a little hard luck sometimes

Woody Guthrie's original version

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

High Court Deputy Judge Nicholas Strauss QC said that the Williams song, from the album I've Been Expecting You, copied one of the four verses of the original song, later parodied in the Wainwright version.


Every Son of God gets a little hard luck sometimes, especially when he goes round saying he is the way

Loudon Wainwright III's parody

Ludlow Music had originally agreed to the Williams song but a dispute arose over the company's demand for a half share in the copyright.

EMI had described the demand as excessive and offered 25%. The Williams album also stated that the lyrics had been reproduced "by kind permission" of Ludlow.


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

Robbie's version

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."

The judge said: "In my view, the extent of the copying is substantial, although not by much."

He said that Jesus in a Camper Van took the central idea from the Loudon Wainwright version that the Son of God attracted bad luck by going round saying "I am the way".

"I think that this is of sufficient substance to amount to an infringement of copyright," the judge added.

See also:

12 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Robbie toast of pub crooners
29 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Robbie 'inspired by Lennon'
20 Sep 00 | Entertainment
Top of the Pops cuts Robbie duet
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Entertainment stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Entertainment stories