Ep 27, Part 5 of our commentary on Palmer vs Universal – Day 2 of the court hearings. This time we look at a key plank in Clive’s defence. He alleges that the Twisted Sister song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is actually just a cover version of O Come All Ye Faithful. Really? Could be big implications if he’s right. And we top it off with TS doing a wonderful rock version of the old hymn. It’s a very interesting case indeed – what do you think? Do you have a hunch on which way it might go?
You’ll find the full transcript below:
Welcome back. Day two of the music copyright court case. Today, we’re going to get into Clive Palmer’s defence, and he’s got a really interesting defence about where Twisted Sister actually copied a hymn. Today we really get into Clive’s defence. That Twisted Sister’s song is actually a copy or a version, a cover version of the old hymn ‘O, Come All Ye Faithful’, or a Christmas Carol. Now, this is critical. If Clive’s successful, it means the song, the melody is in the public domain, and then he won’t have a case to answer. It’s really important. Now, this time, Dee Snider, the lead singer of Twisted Sister, appeared in court, virtually via Zoom or something, of course. He didn’t actually come to Australia. Mr. Snider said he had transformed the song and therefore created a new work. He actually said, “It was a matter of unconscious inspiration, not duplication.”
Now, Mr. Palmer’s barrister, one Edmund Robinson, played the court a mashup that Twisted Sister had produced six or seven years ago, a mashup of ‘O, Come All Ye Faithful’. Their song was good copyright evidence showing that they knew there was a similarity. At the end of this video, I’m going to put in a Twisted Sister version of ‘O, Come All Ye Faithful’. I wonder if they’ve shot themselves in the foot by doing that? But anyway, we shall see.
Now, Mr. Robinson also tended to the court some extracts of Dee Snider’s memoir from 2012, in which he said that he was dumbfounded when he was told that there was a similarity between the songs. It’s not like he didn’t already know. In fact, Mr. Snider, and I quote, said, “Holy shit, I sang in the church choir until I was 19 years old. I must have sung ‘O, Come All Ye Faithful’ hundreds of times.” He wrote in his book, and he goes on to say, “Somehow the first six notes of it infiltrated my psyche, and we are transformed into ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’. Thank you, God.”
Now, Mr. Snider tries to defend himself by saying the key word in his memoir was transformed. He’s pushing hard the idea that he transformed the original and he created new original words. Now, this goes to the heart of creativity. This goes to the heart of the question of, “Is there such a thing as an original song?” If you look at a lot of the Rolling Stones songs, Led Zeppelin songs, they are derived from American black music from the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, but they’re considered to be original works. There’s certainly copyright in them. Musicians borrow from the past. There’s no doubt about that.
Now, as I said, I’m about to play you a clip of, it’s fantastic, actually, Twisted Sister doing a Christmas song, ‘O, Come All Ye Faithful’, a wonderful rock version of the old hymn. Now, I’m supposed to be unbiased here, but I’m hoping we get a clear cut answer because if the end of this music copyright court case is based on the fact that Twisted Sister’s song is not original, if that’s the outcome, then we’re not going to have a music copyright precedent case. But anyway, it is what it is. We shall see. More will be revealed. See you next time.
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Credit: the opening and closing sequences feature “Strong Hands” from Ben Catley:
The song: https://soundcloud.com/bencatley/stro…
About Ben: open.spotify.com/artist/66OGdUyXn2WSipn6ZYq7id
Disclaimer re copyright and fair use: https://www.musicmill.com.au/fair-use/