Avril Lavigne Keeps Stealing Songs

Avril Lavigne is being sued by U.S. songwriters who claim that her smash hit Girlfriend sounds suspiciously like a single they released in the 1970s.

Lavigne's manager, Terry McBride, said the pop starlet is one of several people named in a lawsuit filed July 2 that alleges striking similarities to the Rubinoos' song I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.

McBride, also CEO of Nettwerk Music Group, dismissed the suit Wednesday as baseless, calling it a “case of legal blackmail.”

“Avril's a great songwriter and she's proving it over and over and over again,” he said from Vancouver.

He noted that Lavigne heard the Rubinoos song for the first time after learning of the suit.

“Avril's very, very sensible. She knows music well. If the chords had been similar, the melodies had been similar, lyrics had been similar, the meter, she would have gone, ‘Okay, I can see their point.' But nothing's similar.”

Songwriters Tommy Dunbar and James Gangwer filed suit in California's Northern Federal District Court and also name Lavigne's publishing company, Avril Lavigne Publishing, and Lavigne's songwriting partner, Dr. Luke, as defendants.

The Rubinoos song came out in 1979 and features the poppy chorus: “Hey, hey, you, you, I wanna be your boyfriend,” much like Lavigne's more up-tempo hit, which goes, “Hey, hey, you, you, I don't like your girlfriend.”

McBride said he hired a musicologist to study both tracks when he received a draft of the allegations about six weeks ago. “This one came back so solidly on our side it's just ridiculous,” he said.

Still, he admitted that he is considering settling the suit out of court if the costs of defending the case prove too high. He noted that a similar claim against Sarah McLachlan about 10 years ago cost the label roughly $500,000 to defeat in court. When Nettwerk tried to recoup the costs from the plaintiffs, they declared bankruptcy, he said.

The legal blow is just the latest in a series of jabs on the subject of Lavigne's songwriting.

As reported in Wednesday's Globe and Mail, Winnipeg songstress Chantal Kreviazuk last month suggested to Performing Songwriter magazine that Lavigne stole a song title for the disc The Best Damn Thing.

Kreviazuk told the publication that she had given Lavigne a song called Contagious two years ago and was surprised to see a track with the same name on Lavigne's current disc with a credit to Lavigne and songwriter Evan Taubenfeld.

McBride said Kreviazuk has never even heard the Lavigne track and retracted her statement.
“I know, personally, she regrets saying what she said,” he said, adding that the songs are nothing alike. “The interviewer obviously got Chantal on a bad day.”

The hit makers behind Sk8er Boi and I'm With You have also questioned Lavigne's writing credits.

Songwriter Lauren Christie of the production team the Matrix told Rolling Stone that Lavigne did little but “change a word here or there.” Lavigne has insisted they crafted the melodies and lyrics together.

McBride said the barrage of criticism is just part of being at the top of the charts. “Everyone comes after the stars. If Avril was not successful, they wouldn't really care,” he said.

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