(NSW)  15 IPR 385
“Ring My Bell” (CBS Version)
“Ring My Bell” (Trackdown Version)
Comment by Robert Cason & Daniel Mullensiefen
The claimant sought an injunction to prevent the continuation of repeated threats made by the defendant, Guy Cross, in which he claimed CBS had infringed his copyright in a musical work.
Guy Cross had worked with a young singer and songwriter, Collette, in producing a demo tape to send to CBS records (The Trackdown Version). One track on the tape was a cover version of an earlier song Ring my Bell originally by the American Singer Anita Ward and who CBS companies owned the copyright. Soon after, CBS offered Collette a contract for the single Ring my Bell (The CBS Version), which became a hit in the Australian Charts.
The defendant’s cross claim alleges that the Trackdown version was an original work and thus CBS has taken a substantial part of his work in taking/copying/performing. CBS denies Guy is the author of any copyright in the work and any infringement.
The court held that Guy and Collette did hold a copyright in the Trackdown version. However the CBS version only copied the idea of using Ring my bell and there is insufficient substantial similarities to attribute the CBS version as infringing the Trackdown.
There is a great deal of similarity between the three versions (original/Plaintiff/ Defendant) thus the court needed to decide what parts of the works are protected by copyright.
The court decided that the similarities between the CBS version and the Trackdown were not attributed to copyright infringement. The similarities existed as both drew extensively from the original Ring my bell, shared the same vocalist and was produced at around the same time.
Opinion by Judge Davies
Opinion text (PDF)