HELP STOP EXPLOITING ABORIGINAL CULTURES!
ABORIGINES SUE FOR JUSTICE AND RECOGNITION:
JUSTICE FOR THE KUOS!
Do you remember one of the theme songs promoting the 1996 Summer
in Atlanta (singer is going, "A-E-A-O, A-EE-A-O...")? Or, for those of
Virgin Atlantic Advertising area, the theme song for Virgin Atlantic?
music has sold over an estimated 8 MILLION copies world wide, and has
heard by just about everyone in the world. One might have thought the
sung by Native Americans. It may even sound like these Native Americans
were invited to record the sound track.
The truth is that native aborigines did sing the song. But the
aborigines are from a native tribe on the island of Taiwan. And these
singers had no idea that their song was going to be mixed with popular
heard around the world. What's worse, given the success of their
the millions of dollars generated by their artistry, absolutely no
recognition nor compensation has been awarded to the singers.
In an attempt to redress these wrongs, a lawsuit was filed in December
in the United States Federal District Court, Central District of
behalf of Kuo Ying-Nan and Kuo Hsin-Chu ("the Kuos"). In this case of
Goliath-like proportions, the elderly couple is sparring against German
Enigma, Michael Cretu of Enigma, Virgin Record (Germany), Capitol-EMI
(USA), Charisma Records of America (USA), Mambo Music (Germany), and the
International Olympic Committee ("IOC") for copyright infringement of
their music and for failure to attribute them as the original creators
performers of the work.
The Kuos are an elderly (78 and 76 years old) aboriginal couple who
the Ami tribe. The Ami are Malayo-Polynesian and descendants of the
inhabitants of Taiwan. They have a distinct language, culture and
from the Chinese. While integration efforts continue, the standard
of living of the aboriginal tribes continues to lag behind their Chinese
The Ami tribe has no written medium. Its history, traditions, songs and
stories have been passed down orally through the generations. Members
tribe are proud of their culture which they celebrate through song and
The Kuos are revered throughout the tribe as musically gifted and
creators of Ami folk songs. Both the Ami tribe and the Chinese on Taiwan
treasure the work of this couple and consider their songs a part of folk
The song recorded by Enigma, "Return to Innocence", was directly mixed
song recorded years earlier by the Kuos known as, "Jubilant Drinking
Large portions of "Jubilant Drinking Song" were lifted and copied by
Enigma into their hugely popular "Return to Innocence" track. For
first nine seconds of the "Jubilant Drinking Song" and the first nine
seconds of "Return to Innocence" are exactly the same. What's more,
fifty percent (50%) of "Return to Innocence" contains portions of the
"Jubilant Drinking Song." Although Enigma claims that it had received
permission to copy from a third party, neither that third party nor
had ever received permission from the Kuos. But far worse, Enigma failed
recognize the Kuos as the creators and performers of this work.
The Kuos first learned of the popularization of their music when a
heard Enigma's song, "Return to Innocence" on the radio. The Kuos are
delighted that others appreciate their work enough to includ it in their
music. But they are dismayed by the fact that the Ami tribe has received
recognition for their part. When the Kuos asked Enigma about the use of
music in "Return to Innocence," they were rebuffed. A spokeman for
the couple that if they think they should be recognized as the arrangers
performers of the song, they'll have to sue and that it would cost them
millions of U.S. dollars in court proceedings.
Angered by the response from the record company and Enigma, many people
Taiwan began to rally for the Kuos. A local Taiwan counsel, Ms.
Huang, was retained for the case and efforts were made to bring suit
the infringers. Thanks to Ms. Huang's diligent efforts, an arrangement
made with an attorney in the United States to file the suit in December
The Kuos remain saddened that they are forced to resort to such drastic
They are looking for recognition and a reasonable royalty for their
famous record companies and music groups such Enigma must understand
cultural heritage of any people cannot be lifted freely for commercial
profiteering. They cannot deprive this culture of their music and
expect no legal recourse. Enigma and the record companies need to
acknowledge the voices behind this recording that allowed them to make
millions of dollars! They must do the right thing!
For more information, please contact:
In the United States:
Please call (408)259-7797 (voice & fax)
Huang Shiu-Lan, Esq.
Hen Ten Law Offices
(02) 2363-7172 fax
0932-003355 mobile phone
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