Top 5 Examples of Plagiarism

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Number 5: Singin’ in the Rain

Make em Laugh
Cole Porter is not laughing

1948, Cole Porter penned the song “Be a Clown” for the Gene Kelly film “The Pirate”.  The lyrics ran:

Be a clown! Be a clown!
All the world loves a clown!

In 1952, Brown and Freed wrote “Make ’em Laugh” for the Gene Kelly film “Singin’ in the Rain”. The lyrics ran:

Make em laugh! Make ’em laugh!
Don’t you know everyone wants to laugh?

The tunes are almost exactly the same. The director of “Singin’ in the Rain” declared it was a rip-off. Cole Porter, dignified and tactful, did not sue.

The memory of Cole Porter lives on as one of the greatest song-writers of all time. There will never be a copy.

Number 4: Tonight live with Steve Vizard

Steve Vizard
Letterman the better man?

Back in the 1990s, Australians did not get David Letterman’s show “Late night with David Letterman.” Perhaps this is what compelled famous Australian comedian Steve Vizard to launch his show “Tonight Live with Steve Vizard”. Australians were ignorant of the fact that not only was the format the same, but Steve was doing an impersonation of David Letterman. Every move, every nuance, every running gag: he copied them straight from Letterman.

When David’s show finally got to Australia, Steve’s show was long gone, so nobody got sued. (As an Aussie myself, I still remember the shock when I watched the first episode of David Letterman. I didn’t for one second think that David Letterman was copying Steve. It was clear immediately who had copied who. I felt betrayed! From what I read, David Letterman cared less than I did – he just laughed it off.)


Number 3: George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord”

My Sweet Lord
Oh Lord, leave poor George alone!

George penned the beautiful “My Sweet Lord” in 1971.  A decade earlier, the Chiffons penned “He’s So Fine”. The feeling and intention of the songs could not be more different, but the melodies and chord progressions are the same. The judge found that George did not intend to rip-off somebody else’s song, but fined him anyway, to the tune of $587 000. The court case had dragged on for ten years.  It’s all right, George – all things must pass.


Number 2: Avatar


Wonder if the original writers are feeling a bit blue?

In the 1960s , Russian writers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky wrote a science-fiction novel about a warm, lush planet called Pandora, where a-in dwell a race of humanoids called the Nave.

Fifty years later, an American director, James Cameron, released a science-fiction movie about a warm, lush planet called Pandora, where-in dwell a race of humanoids called the Na’vi.

Some cry plagiarism, others say that every sci-fi builds on what has come before. For the rest of, we like to sit back and let the 3D goodness flow.


Number 1: “Snakes on a Train” and every other movie ever made by “The Asylum”

Snakes on a Train

Stop me if you've heard this before...

Snakes on a train“? Surely you’ve heard of – oh, hold on. You’re thinking “Snakes on a plane“, right?

But everyone’s seen “The Day the Earth Stopped” – oh, wait. Isn’t it called “The Day the Earth Stood Still“?

If you’ve ever been to the DVD store, and come home with something that isn’t quite right, then you’ve probably been duped by The Asylum. The Asylum studio makes “mockbusters” – films that are oh so similar to the actual blockbuster that we, the public, rent them by mistake. The Asylum has NEVER lost money on a film, so they’re doing something right (or something very, very wrong).

Always just on the edge of being sued, The Asylum does not hide what it does, but proudly states that they are just “trying to get their films watched”. Other Asylum titles you may have picked up by mistake are: “Sunday School Musical“, “Transmorphers“, “100 Million BC“, “The Terminators” and “Street Racer“.

The Asylum is so audacious, it’s hard to get cross!

About the Author: Jerry Toga works in live theater, but has a passion for movies, music and entertainment systems. You can read his reviews of his latest favourite geeky gadget at aura bass shaker.

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