Jackson Cleared of Plagiarism Claims

ByABC News
March 15, 2001, 6:48 PM

March 15 -- He may be Bad, he may be Dangerous, but an Italian court says Michael Jackson is no thief. Not anymore, at least.

An appeals court in Rome has overturned a lower court's decision, clearing Jackson of plagiarism in a case brought to court in the early '90s by Italian songwriter Al Bano.

Bano, whose real name is Albano Carrisi, claimed in 1993 that Jackson's "Will You Be There," which appeared on the 1991 album Dangerous, infringed on part of the music of the Italian songwriter's 1987 song "I Cigni di Balaka" ("The Swans of Balaka").

In a May 1999 court decision finding Jackson guilty, Rome Magistrate Domenico Bonaccorsi had written, "Besides the differences in language and text, both songs appear identical. The similarity cannot be put down to chance."

A fine of $1,900 was ordered, then suspended, and Jackson was asked to pay court fees, but his lawyers appealed the decision.

"The criminal court's ruling was groundless and a travesty," Jackson's copyright lawyer Eve Wagner said at that time. "The criminal court had not only ignored the previous rulings by six other judges in Jackson's favor but also the opinion of the court's own expert that there was 'no possibility of plagiarism.'"

Bano has also brought numerous civil cases against Jackson but has failed to win any of them.