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Group Busted for Lifting George Clinton’s ‘Bow Wow Wow …’ Refrain

George ClintonThat famous refrain you’ve heard a thousand times (at least) –“Bow wow wow, yippie yo, yippie yeah” — is at the center of a legal battle involving George Clinton, his copyright owners, and if you can believe it, Shaquille O’Neal.

The chorus, originally from George Clinton’s 1982 funk classic ‘Atomic Dog,’ has been sampled numerous times, most notably by Snoop Dogg for his 1992 hit ‘Who Am I? (What’s My Name?).’ Recently, the song turned up again in the song ‘D.O.G. in Me’ by Public Announcement, a track which features a guest spot by none other than Shaquille O’Neal.

Bridgeport Music, the owners of many of Clinton’s songs, have been pursuing infringement actions for years, and this recent case made its way to the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which upheld a lower court decision that Public Announcement was in fact infringing on their copyright.

The court cited ‘D.O.G. in Me”s use of the famous lyrics, as well as the “repetition of the word ‘dog’ in a low tone of voice at regular intervals and the sound of rhythmic panting” as the basis for their decision.

According to at least one source, Dr. Funkenstein himself won’t be seeing any of the $89,000 awarded in the case, as he has been part of an ongoing battle with Bridgeport Music over disputed royalties.

Making this whole ordeal even more interesting is this bit of information regarding the song’s origins, courtesy of the Court of Appeals:

“[Songwriter David Spradley] recorded the initial tracks in the studio and recalled that ‘when George arrived he had been partying pretty heavily so he was, you know, feeling pretty good,’ and was unsteady at the microphone. Spradley and Garry Shider ‘got on either side of him. We just kind of kept him in front of the microphone’ while Clinton recorded the vocal tracks that same night.”

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