Monday, October 13, 2008

"Hey! Hey! You! You!" - The Case of Avril Lavigne

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

NEW! Settlement reached in Avril Lavigne 'Girlfriend' lawsuit

Another Great Article with Some Interesting Statistics

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 on your blog. 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 be evaluated using your Media Discussion Rubric!
  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).


susie said...

Is it possible that each artist has brought about their own unique flavor to a simple phrase: "Hey, Hey, You, You!" I would have to credit the stones for the original, but Rubinoos and Avril both have interesting pieces built around the chorus. I do think Avril stole more than Rubinoos, but that makes for an interesting question: How much is too much where music copying is involved, and how much can be counted accidental? most artist use lines from other songs and it's a common verse but I think each artist puts their own meaning their songs even if their similar to another song. I do believe that she never heard the song before because neither have I no one noticed the similarity's until Tommy Dunbar and James Gangwer brought her to court. First Chantal Kreviazuk called her out over her song "Contagious" and now she faces a lawsuit by the members of a 1970s rock band who claim her hit song ''Girlfriend'' rips off one of their tunes. like I think it's ridicules there's like two words that are the same and that's copyright there just trying to get money for it but they weren't the first ones to use that verse.
Back to Chantal Kreviazuk I think it was a good decision for her to apologize the song wasn't nothing at all like Avril. I don't see why you would have to pay to use a few words in a another song that's where some artists get there inspiration from other artists. So I don't see the big deal in creating a song using a few words or a title someone else thought of I think the copyright law is stuiped.Without consent is still copyright infingement80 even though I don't think it's fair it's still the law and being sued comes along with great ideas and opnions of the artists.

rrrachael.a said...

Does anyone else remember the days Avril Lavigne had real talent? I know I do. I still listen to her first albums, Let Go and Under My Skin, and respect her as an artist. The release of Girlfriend in early 2007 almost made me nauseas. I don’t understand why she would change her image so drastically to someone that acts like a rebellious teenager (which would have been a much more appropriate image at the start of her career) from a talented, tomboy teenager who was just being herself, and could actually write a song that couldn’t be done to a choreographed dance.
My sudden nausea from Girlfriend only continued when she was accused of plagiarizing the 1979 hit by The Rubinoos, I Wanna be Your Boyfriend. If you listen to the song, there are severely obvious similarities with the tempo, rhythm, and of course, the lyrics, especially the chorus. Yet Avril still claimed she had never heard the song before. But of course; UK pop group, Lush, did a cover of the song in 1998, replacing the word boyfriend with girlfriend. And Indie pop group, Farrah also did a cover in 2001. Needless to say, Avirl had plenty of other sources to have heard the catchy chorus and be “inspired.”
Can you really blame Chantal Kreviazuk for accusing Avril of ripping her off? Kreviazuk had sent her a song with the same title, Contagious, a few years prior, and immediately jumped to conclusions and accused Avril of plagiarizing again. Though this actually wasn’t the case, I still don’t blame Kreviazuk for jumping to that conclusion after Avril was just in the middle of a copyright lawsuit. If Lavigne did it once, she’d do it again.
As far as ‘how much is too much’ in the case of copyright law, I don’t think you should be allowed to touch someone else’s work to pass off as your own without complete permission from the original artist. How can you even be considered talented if you’re using someone else’s work to look good? Originality is really all that matters to me. Sorry Avril, but you’ve lost a fan.

Anonymous said...

In all honesty, all of this copyright stuff makes no sense whatsoever, and the most confusing bit is if copying a particular part of a song is worse than another part. Legally, all parts of the song are considered with the same weight, but prosecutors are disagreeing, saying that there is an art to making songs.
Case in point: Tommy Dunbar of The Rubinoos recently claimed that Lavigne stole her catchy hook from the song “Girlfriend” from the Rubinoos song “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.” Lavigne responded with strong denial, saying she “had never even heard the song before.” Both songs share the same common hook, the “Hey, Hey, You, You, I (Don’t Like Your Girlfriend for Lavigne) or (Wanna Be Your Boyfriend for The Rubinoos).
After listening to the two songs, there is no doubt that the hook is similar, if not identical, in terms of tempo, melody, rhythm and harmony, with only a slight variation of the lyrics, to the point of actually being able to put one of the songs over the other, and not missing a beat. However, in my opinion, the rest of “Girlfriend” is completely different from the rest of “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.”
Technically, the tempo may be similar, which it would need to be in order for the song to flow properly. But as I said before, the actual verses and bridge melody of “Girlfriend” is quite different from that of “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend,” at least, in my opinion.
However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the main money-maker of “Girlfriend” is almost too similar to the hook of another song to be a coincidence.
Under Canadian Fair Dealing law, another artist may use up to 10% or 30 seconds of another artist’s song, whichever is less. Having absolutely nothing to do last night, I timed the “Girlfriend” chorus/hook, and found it was about 19 seconds long. Then, I took the Rubinoos song and found that 10% of their song is approximately 20 seconds. From this, I found that Lavigne is completely innocent of copyright infringement under Canadian copyright law.
However, this is under Canadian Copyright law, so she may have been breaking the American version of the same law.
So now our problem is what inspired Lavigne to use that particular hook in her song? Yes, the lyrics are very commonplace, but the melody and the music isn’t.

Anonymous said...

Normally, I'm not much of an Avril Lavigne fan, but in this case I have to agree with her and how she said that "Hey, Hey, You, You!" is a commonly used phrase. Sure, it can be used in different variations, but it’s still used. The interesting part is how Avril's use of the phrase, is EXACTLY the same as the Rubinoos "Hey, Hey, You, You!" in their song "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend".
It's funny how Avril claims to have never heard of this song or the band until this case was brought up, but the lyrics in her hook are very similar to the Rubinoos'. I don't know if I would say that it's 100% Avril's fault though. I mean, not many artists completely write their own songs these days. Also, I'm pretty sure that the song had to go through her producers and a lot of other people had to listen to it before she could release it; but none of them took notice that the song partially already existed? Shouldn't all artists be looking into these kinds of things before they release songs?
The whole "using 10% of another person's work" doesn't really appeal to me. If I were an artist, I would want people to like me for the music that I write; not music that I stole. If you're stealing rhythms or harmonies from other people’s songs then I think you're not in the business because you love it. You probably just want the money.
As for the Chantal Kreviazuk problems, I think she probably did overreact but I'm also pretty sure that 90% of us would've done the same thing. Apparently, Chantal sent Avril a song called "Contagious" a while back, and was surprised to see that on Avril's new album there was a song called "Contagious. Jumping to conclusions, she went on to say how Avril doesn't write her own music and how she'll never work with her again. Obviously, she finally decided to actually listen to the song and realized "Hey, this isn't my song". Whoops? Sure, Avril didn't steal the track from her, but she isn't very creative with titles. Seeing as she decided to use the title from Kreviazuk's song.
In my opinion, Avril probably didn't realize she was taking The Rubinoos hook, just like George Harrison. If she did though, it’s most likely because she has nothing left to say in her songs. Wouldn't it make more sense to just say nothing at all, rather than steal from others?

shanikaMaria said...

So I agree that the hook in Avril Lavigne’s song “Girlfriend” and the Rubinoos 1978 song “I want to be your boyfriend” have an alikeness. Though some argue that “hey hey, you you” are used commonly in music but still, the two songs have the same melody close to the same lyrics and that same pop feel. When Tommy Dubar from the Rubinoos sues Avril Lavigne and co-writer Luke Gottwald for copyright infringement, Avril gets defensive. She claims she’s never heard of the band or their song. Which she may not of heard of the band or that exact song but maybe she heard cover songs done by Lush in 1997 or Farrah in 2002. So I’m pretty sure she must have heard a rendition of the song somewhere and just incorporated it into her song. But what I don’t understand is why Chantal Kreviazuk starts accusing Avril of stealing a song Chantal had wrote two years ago. Chantal saw on Avril’s new CD there was a song with the same name that Chantal had used for the song she sent Avril Lavigne. Without even listening to the song she began saying to reports “Avril will cross the ethical line and no one says anything. That's why I'll never work with her again.” When Chantal finally listened to the song and realised there was no similarities except the name of the song she appoligized to Avril for jumping to conclusions. So Avril didn’t steal from Chantal but I still think she stole either contiously or subcontiously from the Runinoos weather she’ll admit to it or not.

deanneFTW said...

Personally, I really like the song “Girlfriend”. It’s fun and super catchy, although I think it’s pretty obvious it’s not entirely her work. I had heard a lot about this whole copyright case between her and the Rubinoos, but I never actually heard “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” until last week in class. Of course they both have the identical “Hey, hey, you, you!” line, but the similarities definitely continue. The chorus, tempo, rhythm and over all feel of the song are blatantly similar, and this was only further confirmed when we listened to the two songs playing over top of each other. However, Avril claims she’s never heard the song in her life and that she has done nothing wrong. Sure, it could be a coincidence. The phrase “Hey, hey, you, you” isn’t all that out of the ordinary, but everything about the two songs are just too similar for it to of been a total coincidence. Like pointed out above, there have been other artists who have covered the song. So maybe Avril didn’t hear the Rubinoos original version, but there’s definitely some other sources she could have gotten inspiration from.
Whether she plagiarized or not, we’re never going to know the complete truth behind the story. Of course taking someone’s work and calling it your own is wrong, but it’s much easier to say “I didn’t copy them” than to tell the world you’re an unoriginal plagiarist.
After reading what Chantal Kreviazuk had to say about Avril and her “song writing” skills, I think it just further confirms my belief that “Girlfriend” is not an original piece. However, I think it was pretty ridiculous to jump to the conclusion that Avril took a song she wrote called “Contagious” for her new album, without even reading the lyrics first. Of course with all the controversy surrounding Avril it’s sort of understandable, but to claim something like that in a magazine for millions to read without even checking first is pretty stupid.

Sarina said...

In my opinion Avril is definitely copying the Rubinoos. Not only did she take the “Hey, Hey, You, You!” part of the song; she just switched around the lyrics “I wanna be your boyfriend” to “I don’t like your girlfriend.” The whole beat of the song is exactly the same beat as the song by the Rubinoos, it is just sped up a little. Avril could have made a song with “Hey, Hey, You, You!” Just adding a different beat, and making the song completely about something different. If the song was made that way I think that Avril would not be so guilty of copyright infringement.
I think Chantal Kreviazuk definitely “jumped the gun” way too soon, when it came to the song “contagious”! I can see why Kreviazuk would jump to a conclusion that Avril took her song so quickly, but she should have taken time out to actually listen to the song, instead of going about accusing her of stealing it. I also think that it was very courteous of Kreziazuk to apologize to Avril for her false accusation. However, Avril using the same name for her song as Chantal Kreviazuk’s song shows that she is not very creative, and cannot come up with a song title all on her own. If Avril cannot even think of her own song title, how are the listeners suppost to believe that she did not steal songs from other artists.
Avril has also been accused for the stealing of a My Chemical Romance song, and others. With a history like that I think it makes it seem as though Avril steals all her songs, and that we all should be suspicious of upcoming songs. All in all copyrighting someone else’s work is illegal, and I think that Avril was definitely guilty of that.

lincoln NHB said...

Where did the heartfelt, meaningful song and lyrics go? Avril went from a sweet, innocent, Canadian, teenage girl, to a rebellious, thief. I don't understand why she would even change her image to begin with. She was more than capable of thriving in the music industry the way she was. Now with her choppy, spoken, rhymes, I am almost ashamed to call her Canadian. Her new music has no emotions that pull on peoples heart strings, making them relate to the song on the same level. This is what makes a song worth while! I also don't believe that during this whole copyright feud, Avril claims to have never heard the Rubinoos song "I Want To Be Your Boyfriend," this is just an idiotic thing to say. The two songs are clearly similar in not only the lyrical aspect, but also the musical! The entire hook and chorus have almost an identical beat as well as melody. Now what are the chances of both the lyrics and music being this similar? EXACTLY... very slim! Even if there was the slightest chance that Avril could be telling the truth, I highly doubt most people would believe her. This is mainly due to her new image that the record companies have molded her into. Since she has clearly done more for herself while being a punk who doesn't give a hoot than the honest and faultless young girl she always was. People who hear about this dispute will almost automatically find Avril to be guilty, as she portrays a woman who is selfish and couldn't care less about everyone else. Also, since Avril Lavigne was accused of plagiarism in her song "Girlfriend," a simple rebuttal of complete denial was given by Avril. This shows an extreme amount of irresponsibility, especially when she is a pop star who is looked upon as a role model by many. This is not the actions of a "rightful person." I would commend her for at least admitting she had borrowed parts of the Rubinoos song without asking, and apologize to Tommy Dunbar and James Gangwer. Then these younger audiences could realize that when you do something wrong, it is always good to take the blame that is rightfully yours, and apologize. We all know that, even now, Avril will continue to deny that she pilfered a word here and there from the Rubinoos, when we all know, she did. Basically what I am saying is that Avril Lavigne has brought this "misfortune" upon herself, and only she can make things right, although she most likely will not. Many people told me that when Avril first hit the charts with, "sk8er boi," she had no talent whatsoever. I guess now it is apparent that the talent that seemed present did not belong to her.

Ee-neZ NHB said...

In my opinion, the song “Girlfriend” is very catchy. It starts off with the hook, and leaves you wanting more. It’s also very easy and fun to dance along to, since the tempo and rhythm are upbeat. Soon after this now hit song was released, it was heavily criticized for being plagiarized. Many people pointed the finger at Avril Lavigne, saying that she had plagiarized the 1979 hit by the Roobinoos called, “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.” I listened to the two songs and found a couple of similarities. I found that the hook is nearly identical! The lyrics sung during the hook are especially alike: “Hey, hey, you, you...” and then go off onto similar lyrics about being someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend. Another thing I found was that throughout the entire song, the tempo is quite similar. Though at some parts, you can feel that the tempos aren’t quite the same, most of the time you can clap along and keep a steady beat. I also found that the lyrics are not really the same other than the hook. Avril Lavigne denies ever having heard this song before, stating that she has been, “falsely accused of ripping their song off.” In my opinion, even if it were true that she herself had never heard this song before, one of her co-workers must have recognized the catchy hook and second guessed Avril. Some people say that an issue as big as plagiarizing will affect Avril’s career. I think otherwise. Many other successful artists have plagiarized more than a few times and have gotten away with it. In my opinion this will only give her more publicity. Also, Avril has gotten some bad attention elsewhere, but still on the topic of plagiarism. Chantal Kreviazuk used to be a good friend of Avrils, they even lived together at one point. According to Chantal, Avril plagiarized a song that Chantal had sent to her a while ago. Chantal later realized that she was mistaken, only having looked at the title of the song on the album, and voiced a public apology to Avril Lavigne. Avril has also been known for stealing songs off of Peaches. Since Avril has gained this reputation, I think it is safe to say that she has once again taken someone’s work without asking permission beforehand. Let’s hope this doesn’t become a habit!

rrrachael.a said...

Ines made a very good point about Avril's co-workers. She probably has such a large team of people working on her music and publicity, you'd think that someone would have heard The Rubinoos, Lush, or Farrah version of the song.
So why did Avril get away with this? It doesn't even make sense.

NikolaJ said...

How could this of possibly happened? One of the sweetest starting off pop/rock singers have turned into a theif. Yes, you guessed it Avril Lavgine was accused of copyrighting on "The Rubinoos" song I wana be your boyfriend. Personally, and im sure we will all agree to this fact, that Avril did copyright this song as much as she possibly could of. If you really pay attention to the song, you can just about tell that she took word for word or changed a little bit. I don't know why, but she turned into a little devil in my opinion. And to the fact, that many little girls/teens like Avril as a singer, do we really want her to be our idols? Well if you ask me, I would have to say: Why even let her stay in the singing business? Especially if all she does is copyright".
And im definetely sure I don't want my children to become like her. Yes she makes a lot of money and she can easily pay those law suits, but where is that taking her?

NikolaJ said...

I completely agree with what Lincoln said. From a sweet girl, to a theif, why change? I'm also very ashamed that she is Canadian. >.< As i said in my blog the same thing. How can her crew possible stay with her after how many law suites she's been threw, are they being paid too much?