Michael Jackson Found Not Guilty Of Plagiarism

Following a lawsuit that has been pending in Milan, Italy, for seven years, Michael Jackson has been found innocent of plagiarism.

Considering that some of pop music's most successful songwriters have lined up to write songs for the singer -- not to mention that he's penned a fair share of hits on his own -- the idea he would rip off a relatively unknown songwriter seems rather unrealistic.

However, Jackson has been involved in a lawsuit claiming just that since 1992. Italian songwriter Albano Carrissi, also known as "Al Bano," has claimed that Jackson's "Will You Be There," from his 1991 "Dangerous" album, plagiarized Carrissi's "I Cigni di Balaka (The Swams Of Balaka)" (see "Michael Jackson Refutes Allegations of Plagiarism").

Carrissi first sued Jackson and his label, Sony Music, in 1992, when he sought an injunction in a Rome court against publication of the song in Italy. The court granted the injunction,

but Jackson and Sony appealed to a Rome court of appeals, which reversed the lower court's decision.

Carrissi then took the case to a Milan Tribunal in 1997, which, on October 15, ruled in favor of Jackson and Sony. A press release issued Thursday said that Jackson's copyright lawyer, Eve Wagner was only informed of the decision on Thursday.

Unfortunately for Jackson, this isn't the last he'll hear of the case. He still faces a battle in a criminal court in Rome, where. In May, a judge found him guilty of plagiarism over the same song and ordered him to pay a fine of about $2,140, which was suspended on notice of appeal.

Commenting on that ruling, Ms. Wagner said in a prepared statement, "the criminal court's ruling was groundless and a travesty. The criminal court had not only ignored the previous rulings by six other judges in Jackson's favor, but also the opinion of the court's own expert that there was 'no possibility of plagiarism.'"