Rum and Coca Cola Court Case | Calypso Memories 2

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The Rum and Coca Cola court case is a landmark case that highlights the issue of copyright infringement in the music industry. The case involves the Andrew Sisters, a popular singing group of the 1940s, and the song "Rum and Coca Cola," which they recorded in 1945. The song was a huge hit and is still well-known today, but it was also at the center of a legal dispute that lasted for several years.

The controversy began when Lionel Belasco and Lord Invader sued Morey Amsterdam, the Andrews Sisters and their record label, claiming that "Rum and Coca Cola" was a rip-off of his song "More Rum and Coca Cola." The melody for the song was composed by Lionel Belasco on a song titled, "L'Année Passée," (Wikipedia) while the lyrics were written by the Lord Invader in the 1930s.  The song had become popular in the Caribbean before the Andrews Sisters recorded their version. Morey Amsterdam visited Trinidad in 1943 as part of a U.S.O (United Service Organizations) tour. He spent one month on the island and claimed that during that period, he never heard the song!

The case went to trial in 1948, and the judge ultimately ruled in favor of Lord Invader, stating that the Andrews Sisters had plagiarized his song. The judge also ordered the Andrews Sisters and their record label to pay Lord Invader a significant amount of money in damages. The amount paid was $150,000 but it took years to receive the money and it was not until 1948 that he was paid. Lord Invader won the case, but it was not a total victory since the courts allowed Morey Amsterdam to retain the copyright for the song.  Eventually the song was banned in some US markets because of the reference to rum and prostitution. 

The ruling was controversial, and it sparked a fierce debate about the ethics of borrowing from other cultures. Some argued that the Andrews Sisters had simply adapted a popular Caribbean song for an American audience, while others argued that they had stolen Lord Invader's work without giving him proper credit.

The case also raised questions about the nature of copyright and intellectual property in the music industry. While the Andrews Sisters may have believed that they were creating something original, they were ultimately held accountable for their use of Lord Invader's song.

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Production Notes/Music Credits:
Songs via YouTube Player: 
Rum and Coca Cola by Lord Invader
Rum and Coca Cola by Andrews Sisters (1944)

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