The Alleged Story Of Plagiarism made against Michael Jackson
We do not know many things about Michael Jackson, and much of what we know sometimes is incorrect; flanked by teams of public relations officers that too often seemed of gave helping the press to uncover negative or fake news about him, here another false story his PR/legal entourage failed to dab still today’s.
An Italian singer named Albano Carrisi accused Michael Jackson of plagiarism. The strange affair seems to have happened after the son of this singer listened “Will you be there” and found a strong resemblance with a song composed by his father in 1987, “I cigni di Balaka” (The Balaka swans). Michael ‘s published his song in November 26, 1991, on the “Dangerous” album and sold around 32 million copies worldwide.
- After Albano charges in 1994, Rome’s Civil District Court ordered the withdrawal of Michael’s album from the Italian market and Sony had to re-issue a new album version without the song. In Italy, plagiarism is a criminal offense, so the lawsuit went on both civil and criminal.
- Following MJ’s deposition in 1997, the judge revoked the 1994 seizure order because it was missing reliable and convincing proof that Michael had been even aware
- A few months later, Milan’s Court ruled that there was not a real plagiarism as both songs were devoid of originality being inspired by an old American blues piece by then “copyright free”.
- Albano was sentenced to pay all court expenses.
- Then in May 1999, the Criminal Judge in Rome, sided with Albano after the experts compared the songs and noticed 37 consecutive identical notes in the choruses. The plagiarism established and Michael sentenced to pay a fine of four million lire (the former Italian currency) which was about $4000. Yes! 4000 dollars, not million how the US and UK media spread around! Not granted Albano’s request of five billion Italian lira (about 5 million US dollars) for the damages suffered.
- Meanwhile, on November of the same year, Milan Court of Appeal confirmed the 1999 sentence which proclaimed the songs in question devoid of originality so no plagiarism of the song “Will you be there” by Michael Jackson.
- In 2001, ended also the criminal prosecution in Rome which overturned the 1999 judgment resulting MJ final acquittal from the accuse of plagiarism crime.
The requirement for protecting intellectual property in copyright is the creative character of the work. The creative character must be connected to the concepts of novelty (in an objective sense) and originality such as to allow a differentiation regarding pre-existing works.
Based of the Albano-Michael Jackson case, it is necessary to underline the qualitative difference between the requirement of novelty and that of originality, so only the new works that differ from the pre-existing ones and that reach a certain threshold of expressive capacity would be protected by copyright.
Both songs was taken from an old African American song of the group “The Ink Spots” devoid of copyright, “Bless You For Being An Angel” dated 1939. Listen to the below links and you will catch the similarities:
The similarities are more between the original song of the “Ink Spots” and Michael’s “Will you be there”.
How could Michael Jackson know Albano song “I Cigni di Balaka? The Court confirmed that Michael Jackson had no idea of Albano music and existence. And in fact, Italian Michael Jackson fans never believed this story, and they sent an informal warning to the Italian singer due to his unclear statements.
But despite criticism and two judgement ruled against him, Albano still go on television and insisting with equivocal statements. What can it be his purpose? Make the audience believe they signed the confidentiality clause agreement, to stop the lawsuit? Impossible due to the judgment in the court might be close to the real course of the events as Michael was unaware of Albano existence and even less of his music, never published in the United States.
In Italy Albano was the subject of some ridicule and funny innuendos. A well-known Italian entertainer, Riccardo Rossi, told to the audience:
“It ‘s something crazy and absurd… you all remember well this strange thing that one day Albano thought MJ had copied one of his songs …a crazy thing..so it came out in the news, there was a legal issue and everything else.
I would like to remind all of you WHO Michael Jackson IS: Michael Jackson is someone that has among his collaborators Paul McCartney who gave to him a song as a gift … then he has Stevie Wonder who go to play harmonica for him even if for just a few notes. He’s got Quincy Jones, the largest producer of black music of all times who produced for him his first three albums one of which, I remind you, is Thriller which is the best-selling album in the history of the world of music. So I wonder …how Michael Jackson even know Albano exists????”
Rossi carries on his gig imagining a Quincy Jones, who must be informed of all tendencies in music due of his work, that for some strange reason listens and decides to bring this piece of crap of Albano song to Michael Jackson. When the two decide how to arrange the song and everything’s organized MJ refuses to pay royalties to Albano.“I do not care, I want to copy” .While the audience doubled over with waves of laughter, the comedian going on with Quincy Jones screaming at him: “Michael it will cost $400, the rights for this song for God’s sake!” and MJ: “NO I want to copy if not I don’t do it”.
The gig ends with the comedian saying: “Michael Jackson, the man who bought the rights to all the Beatles songs, decided to steal a song from Albano to save $400 LMAO ???
A strange story in which Albano tried, since there was a real similarity between the two songs, to get a bit of free advertising in the world.
The only positive note of this whole issue goes in favor of MJ collectors: only the Italian “Dangerous” album contains 13 tracks instead of 14 worldwide.
It is a precious piece because it is not known how many copies exist. However, it remains difficult to find, especially for foreign collectors. A small fortune for who owns it now.