Monday, July 09, 2007

Avril Lavigne: I Wanna be Your Defendant?

My favorite celeb gossip site, tmz.com, has been carrying stories about claims that singer Avril Lavigne's song "Girlfriend" infringes the famous song "I Wanna be Your Boyfriend" by the equally famous Rubinoos. Here is a link to Avril's song. Here is a link to the Rubinoos' song. I think most if not all copyright layers would have a strong opinion about the claim, but Ms. Lavigne doth protest, as seen in this letter that TMZ has posted as from her:

"You may have heard some news that two guys who wrote for some band from the 1970s I have never in my life heard of called the "Rubinoos" are trying to sue me. They have a song called "I Want To Be Your Boyfriend" that has no musical similarities to the song "Girlfriend" that Luke Gottwald and I wrote together. They claim that a small part of the lyrics are the same and are saying that I took these from them. I had never heard this song in my life and their claim is based on 5 words! All songs share similar lyrics and emotions. As humans we speak one language.

Off the top of my head, two other songs that I can immediately think of with this type of lyric are "Hey, hey, you, you get off of my cloud" by the Rolling Stones and "Hey little girl I want to be your boyfriend" by the Ramones. Simply put, I have been falsely accused of ripping their song off. Luke and I have done nothing wrong and there is no merit to their claim."

23 comments:

philphil said...

Humans speak only one language?

Anonymous said...

Substantial similarity, in part, yes. Access? Who still has any Rubinoos records?

William Patry said...

I wondered about access too, but perhaps the allegation is that the song was, at one time, widely available.

brandonr said...

When I listened to the Rubinoos song, I had to wonder about the viability of a scenes a faire defense with respect to the "Hey Hey You You" part of the refrain, particularly since that's where most of the similarity lies.

Overall, it seems to me that unless they have a smoking gun with respect to access, Rubinoos doesn't have much chance of prevailing.

But maybe I'm a biased observer. You see, I have a soft spot for Avril and listened to her song "Let Go" over and over again while studying for exams my first semester in law school.

Dean C. Rowan said...

I'll 'fess. I have a Rubinoos' record (vinyl), the very one including the disputed tune. At the time, I was a big fan of Beserkley Records (Jonathan Richman, Earthquake, Greg Kihn, etc.) and power pop. The tune was a big-ish hit for the group. Given the technological "advances" (hmmm...) of P2P, iTunes, and the like, is access really a show-stopper here? Anyway, although I'm not an Avril fan--I'll grant that the Rubinoos' tune is silly, but hers is sillier--I agree with brandonr that similarity is slight. I just don't detect copying. ("Hey! [echo] You! [echo]"? C'mon!)

Jon said...

Agreed w/ Dean. I've got the vinyl, too, as do many indie pop lovers over age 30. Avril should be ashamed to say she's never heard of the Rubinoos, who are staples on the Yellow Pills power pop compilations. And their song is way better than hers in everything but production values. But it's hard to hear much similarity.

Anonymous said...

Yeah OK, cuz avril hasn't accomplished enough. What a joke.Sounds to me like the Rubinoos need money.

Anonymous said...

It's a double rip-off og the Stone's "get off of my cloud" and at least Avril will cop to it.

Anonymous said...

Obvious catty avril-lovers here... it's not just the words, but the rhythm and beat of the alleged rip-off. It's very similar in melody as well. Perhaps you say it sounds different...but that's the whole point of ripping someone off and trying not to get caught!

William Patry said...

Meow indeed

Anonymous said...

how about this:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2i3ky_peaches-and-avril-lavignes-songs

Anonymous said...

Try this:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2i3ky_peaches-and-avril-lavignes-songs

Rob Falk said...

Have the vinyl, saw them live, loved the song... never once thought of it when I heard Avril's song. Upon listening to both with litigation in mind, I still don't see why anyone would think there's a viable claim of infringement.

I don't hear rhythmic, structural or melodic similarities. The lyrics are only passingly similar - as are many, many rock songs.

Compositionally - indeed a matter of taste - I'd think the Rubinoos would be insulted to learn that anyone thought Lavigne's work was comparable to theirs.

Anonymous said...

And who could imagine the Rubinoos making such a claim for their 1979 work following so hot on the heels of The Ramones "I Wanna Be your Boyfriend" in 1976. Which actually WAS a classic song. Probably why the band is no longer around and needs this for visibility and cash...

Jeff said...

where was the suit filed? can anyone link to the complaint?

Justin said...

A band called Lush covered the song in 1996 but changed the lyrics to "I wanna be your girlfriend." Their version has a "hey, hey, you, you" section that sounds more like Avril's. I think she probably used the song as inspiration, but changed the tune and lyrics. That's why she so carefully sings, "I want to be your girlfriend" in her song. The diction is unnatural.

Rubinoos.com has side-by-side comparisons.

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to feel sorry for her, and wish to God I hadn't released this song under the aka of Avril Latrene and the Extremes:

I Wanna Rip Yer Song Off!
Avril Latrene and the Extremes
aka Dr BLT
http://www.drblt.net/music/SongOff.mp3

It was just a joke. I honestly meant no harm. I had no idea that my song would take off like it did. If I could only take it back, I would, Avril.

Anonymous said...

So, Avril claims she never heard the song before she (co)wrote 'I don't like your Girlfriend'

July 26th 2005...Avril plays a concert in Regina, Saskatchewan.

July 26th 2005, 91.3fm CJTR Regina Community Radio plays the Rubinoos 'I Wanna be your Boyfriend' late in the evening.

Coincidence? Maybe, but it happened.

Mark S. said...

After listening to the snippets a few times, the only case the Rubinoos could make is that the "hey hey you you" part sound the same. Also, the back beat is similar but not exactly the same.

The rest of the melody is clearly different in pitch and lyrics.

Anonymous said...

anyone who says its not a ripoff is lying to themselves, avril mos def included, she has NO talent and I hope she gets sued hardcore. Sounds like she didnt even write the song either, just an average looking girl dressed up like a skater to cash in on teenagers who havent developed proper taste yet

Anonymous said...

You really gotta wonder when someone has to make a stretch of the song being heard on played on a community radio station (think a little stepped up from Dixie cup and thread and of course the home station for every local citizen from about 40 up and some dirt (Ms. Lavigne probably not finding herslf in that listening demo for some time)) in late evening in the same PROVINCE after a show. Don't artists have something better to do after a show like go to an aftershow, hang with their fans/band/friends, or just sleep? And that the song was so incredibly potent that not only did it miraculously jump the many miles of ether into Miss Lavigne's cranium - serve her right for playing Saskatchewan - it lay dormant for some 15 months until it burst forth with the frenzy of Alien and had mutated greatly into a new more viral form, that sounds nothing like the original. Oh yeah. It does sound very Hollywood. They should do a film. Avril can be The Rubinoos love child.

Anonymous said...

The similarities are so obvious. It's the height of stupidity not to see it. Avril just made money out of someone else's creation.

Graham said...

I don't know if it's a cover of the Rubinoos song, but Lush had a B-side called "I wanna be your girlfriend" that does bear some similarity to Avril's tune as well. It can be found on the album "Topolino".