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Taiwan Couple Sue Enigma for Vocals

March 27, 1998

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ A Taiwanese aboriginal couple is suing the German pop musician known as Enigma over the use of their vocals in the hit song ``Return to Innocence,″ their record company said Friday.

Also named in the suit is the International Olympic Committee, which Magic Stone Music claims used the song in promotional clips for the 1996 summer games in Atlanta.

Magic Stone Music said the lawsuit was filed in the United States, but was not more specific.

The soaring vocals featured on ``Return to Innocence″ were recorded by Kuo Ying-nan, 78, and his wife, Kuo Hsiu-chu, 76, during a tour of Europe in 1988 and released on a compact disc by France’s Maison des Cultures du Monde.

Michael Cretu _ a Romanian-German producer who records as Enigma _ later bought rights to the recording, mixed it with other vocals and a disco beat, and turned it into an international hit on his 1993 album ``The Cross of Changes,″ which has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide.

The Kuos received no money from Cretu and only learned of their fame when friends heard the song played on ad for Olympics television coverage, the record company said.

The company did not state what damages it was seeking on behalf of the couple, but said earlier approaches for a settlement had been rebuffed.

``Big record companies and music groups like Enigma have to understand that they cannot simply take advantage of powerless people, deprive them of their music, culture and rights″ without consequences, Magic Stone said in a news release.

Also named in the suit are Virgin Records, Capital-EMI Music, Charisma Records of America and Mambo Music.

The 1988 song, known as ``Baleba,″ or ``Jubilant Drinking Song,″ is a traditional work of the Amis tribe and was embellished by Kuo, a betel leaf farmer from Taitung on Taiwan’s southwest coast.

The Amis are the largest of Taiwan’s nine main aboriginal tribes, which have 365,000 members total and make up less than 2 percent of the island’s population.

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