Viewing: Caswell Vs Sony - View all posts

A long weekend in review! 

Billy and I travelled to Sydney on Friday for an extra long weekend a couple of weeks ago.

We spent a glorious couple of days in the Blue Mountains with our friends Allan and Marian Caswell, our tiny fur friends Coco and Kev and spent much time discussing whether it would get cold enough to snow (it didn't), Billy and I bought new hats from the home of Allan Caswell’s hats - Katoomba Hattery, then Marian and I checked out the Carrington (gorgeous!!!) while Billy spied a vintage record and hi fi store (typical – he can sniff them out at about 10kms)! 

How amazing does the Hydro Majestic look?  I can’t wait to get up there again when it’s open for business – pop on a good frock and head over for a cocktail or two!  It really does look amazing - the developers are powering  along and I think the first stage will be open towards the end of this year!

While we were in the mountains, we were also fortunate enough to hear a preview of Allan's new album "Sometimes When You Lose, You Win" now available on iTunes or via Allan or the Songwriters' Fighting  Fund.

It's no secret that Allan is an extremely gifted songwriter, it's been general knowledge around the traps since before "that song' appeared many years ago.  I have all of Allan's albums, and each of them speaks to me in profoundly different ways, but I have to say that "Sometimes When You Lose, You Win" will become  one of 'those' albums, the ones I  ‘always’ listen to just because they make me feel good. 

The title track, written together with Marian, is a heartfelt 'thankyou' to those people known and unknown who continue to support them in their battle with Sony and has a bit of a dig at the corporate machine.  This song, and “Just Like Big Tobacco” are songs that will resonate with anyone who has fought the ‘big guy’ – if you won; or if you  lost – these two songs will speak to you.

Really Stupid People  and A Little Weird Around Here (both written with Lachlan Bryan)are songs that reflect on the state of live music and changes to the way we live and play.  Musicians and music lovers alike will nod along in understanding.

I love When We Were Young and Stupid too – I remember being just like that! Surprisingly for an Allan Caswell record, there is not really a love song…unless you love Coffee!  And for those that don’t like to love at all there’s I Don’t Like People Much!

Allan’s voice is better than ever, and the instrumentation is top notch – there’s not a thing I can criticise.  Just a month from conception to the listener…this is top notch song writing delivered honestly and with passion….just as it should be.

Allan and I performed an intimate house concert on Sunday afternoon, at the home of my brother and his lovely wife and it was a great way to connect with supporters (new and old) and share our music!  If you think you could gather 10+ friends together for a house concert - let me know - perhaps we can arrange it. 

Sept 13 sees Allan conducting a songwriters' workshop and performing a house concert at my place in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne at  if you're interested please click the link or email me!

Songwriters MUST get angry about this! 

This is a really long post and I apologise - but I think it's important enough to ask you to indulge me to read to the end!

Allan Caswell, is a successful and respected Australian songwriter who, for more than a decade has fought for the protection of one of his most famous compositions.You can read more about the case, here.

His song “On the Inside” (the theme for the television “Prisoner”) reached No.1 in Australia and New Zealand, No.3 in England and made the Country Charts in the USA (his own version was a top 20 country hit in Europe in 2004).

For more than a decade Allan has fought to protect the rights to his work "On The Inside" while his publisher SonyATV have sat on their hands and done nothing.  

Recently in the New South Wales Supreme Court, Sony convinced the judge presiding over the case (more about him later) that it was ok to acquire catalogues of songs from smaller publishers and then not adhere to the terms of the contracts with the writers of those songs. Sony also offered up to that court their belief that it was at "their discretion"  whether to take action, or as in this case....not.

Sony, when first notified of a possible infringement some ten years ago, hired a respected and knowledgeable musicologist (one they had used previously) that agreed that the two songs were so similar it was unlikely it was coincidental; then when they realised they were the publishers of both songs, shopped around till they found a musicologist that provided a response that better suited their needs.  They then attacked the integrity of the first musicologist in court?

The judge in the Supreme Court, expressed as to what a musicologist did (obviously didn't keep up with recent cases, Larrikin Vs Men at Work for example read up at Deakin University!) and expressed disappointment that he wouldn't get to speak with American Country Superstar Teddy Gentry (ONE of the FOUR writers of the infringing song) as he was looking forward to meeting him!  The judge also agreed with Gentry that as he lives in the mountains with limited access to TV, it is unlikely he would have been exposed to Allan's song, even though his band Alabama were no 1 on the chart at the same time Allan's song (sung by Patti Paige) was ALSO on the same chart!  Even though Gentry is only one of four writers credited with writing the offending song "Christmas in Dixie , any of them could have heard the tune and contributed it.

Why is this case important?
Most songwriters sign publishing contracts for two reasons:

1. to make the most of income opportunities
2. to protect their work

If this decision is allowed to stand without appeal, it means that realistically a publishing contract will offer no benefit to a songwriter at all; it will be a gift of a significant percentage of royalties and licensing earned to the publishing company with no protection or promise of income to the writer (and might I say little or no effort on their part).

It also means that companies like Sony can swallow up smaller publishing companies at will, making money from the contracts entered into in good faith, but not not having to honour any of the obligations contained therein,

This is not acceptable.

As songwriters we must understand what we are signing when we enter into these arrangements.  We must understand what words like "discretion" mean in relation to contracts.  We must no longer blindly accept what is placed in front of us as "that's just how it is".

How you can help

$10, 000 is required to cover the cost of the appeal. The case has already cost thousands of dollars but the appeal must go ahead!

You can support the appeal by:
  • buying the Christmas In Dixie/ On The Inside Medley on iTunes
  • buying an album (direct from Allan, and I have a few available if you're in Melbourne - email me!)
  • sharing the video below
  • pre ordering the brand new album “Sometimes When You Lose You Win”, which will be released in the next few weeks (email me).
  • contribute $25 or more and receive an Allan Caswell album or a pre order of the new album (email me for trust account details)
  • join The Songwriters' Fighting Fund on Facebook to keep up with all the news.
All the money contributed will be paid directly into the trust account to enable lawyers to run the appeal.

More information

A few  links where you can read all about it!