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Alabama’s ‘Christmas in Dixie’ Involved in a Sticky Lawsuit

Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

Here’s a story for the ‘uh-oh’ colum: Popular group Alabama has gotten wrapped up in a big lawsuit with Australian songwriter Allan Caswell. The legendary country troupe’s involvement in the suit, however, is rather tenuous.

Turns out, Caswell penned a hit called ‘On the Inside’ Down Under in 1979. In 2009, Caswell sued his publishing company, Sony ATV, claiming that they didn’t do their job collecting royalty payments from Alabama. Why? Caswell claims that the band’s 1982 holiday single, ‘Christmas in Dixie,’ contains identical parts to his original melody.

Here’s the sticky part: Caswell and Alabama are both signed to Sony labels. That means if Sony were to come after the honky tonk supergroup for royalties, it would essentially be suing itself.

“That’s the problem,” Caswell told Australian TV’s ‘Today Tonight’ (quote via the Boot). “I’m signed to Sony ATV. Alabama is signed to Sony Music. So it’s all in-house. There’s no incentive for them to take action. They basically can’t take action because they’d be suing themselves.”

That’s way Caswell has chosen to take action against the music publisher itself. “It’s not a plagiarism lawsuit — it’s about getting my publishing company [Sony] to do their job,” says Caswell. “I’m saying I wrote it first, they used some of it in their song and now I want to be compensated for it.”

Regardless of whether the Aussie songwriter gets royalties or not, the popularity of ‘Christmas in Dixie’ still reigns all over the U.S. during the holiday season. The single made waves on country charts when it was released in 1982, and continued its winnings with appearances in 1997, 1998 and 1999.

Check out ‘Christmas in Dixie’ and ‘On the Inside’ below and decide for yourself. Did Alabama lift part of Caswell’s song?

Listen to Alabama’s ‘Christmas in Dixie’

Listen to Lynne Hamilton’s ‘On the Inside’

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