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Jury Finds ‘Winds of War’ Musical Theme Plagiarized; Paramount to Appeal

June 4, 1991

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A federal jury found that a Hollywood composer stole the musical theme for the television mini-series ″Winds of War″ from a professor, a lawyer for Paramount Pictures Corp. said.

Attorney Andy Robertson said Paramount and composer Bob Cobert will appeal the verdict returned Monday.

″The verdict of liability against Paramount is unsupportable by the law or the fact,″ he said.

John Woodbridge, a history professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois, filed a lawsuit in 1986 alleging that Cobert copied his 1965 song ″Sans Vous″ (Without You) and earned $500,000 for the copy.

The 18-hour production, broadcast in seven parts on ABC-TV in 1983, was an adaptation of Herman Wouk’s World War II epic.

If the verdict stands, Woodbridge could claim an unspecified percentage of advertising revenues from ABC. He also has filed undetermined claims for damages and licensing fees.

Robertson said he will file a motion asking U.S. District Judge David V. Kenyon to reverse the verdict.

Woodbridge’s composition ″was never published, distributed or available anywhere in the world,″ he said.

Woodbridge’s attorney, Michael Polin, declined to comment on the verdict Monday. In a recent interview with the Chicago Tribune, Polin said Woodbridge is a self-taught pianist who could neither read nor write music when he picked out ″Sans Vous″ at the keyboard.

A friend put the melody on paper so it could be copyrighted but also passed the score into the hands of ABC and Paramount, Polin told the newspaper.

Several top recording industry artists, including Paula Abdul, the Bee Gees, George Harrison, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger and Stevie Wonder, have been sued for plagiarism by lesser-known composers.

A verdict against the Bee Gees was reversed when obscure songwriter Ronald Selle could not demonstrate how the group got access to his work.

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