Plagiarizing The American President
*Photo courtesy of Australian Television Program "Sunrise"
Anthony Albanese, Australian transport minister, had this to say in an attack against the Liberal Party Opposition Leader Tony Abbot:
"In Australia we have serious challenges to solve and we need serious people to solve them. Unfortunately, Tony Abbott is not the least bit interested in fixing anything. He is only interested in two things: making Australians afraid of it and telling them who’s to blame for it."
Does this sound familiar? Michael Douglas gave a similar speech, written by The Social Network screen writer Aaron Sorkin, in the 1995 film The American President:
"We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, Bob Rumson is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it."
According to the The Hollywood Reporter, the films international distributor, Universal Pictures, has not taken any steps to bring action against the Aussie politician... yet. It could be argued by the studios legal team that Albanese was in violation of Australia's Copyright Act of 1968, which assures dramatic works from being reproduced in "substantial part."
"Of course, the speech was hardly a commercial endeavor and it's possible that the appropriation was merely de minimis under Australian law," wrote The Hollywood Reporter. "And it should be noted that the quoted excerpt in Sorkin's screen speech in The American President was preceded by these words: "You want free speech?" asks Douglas rhetorically. "Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs things you would spend your lifetime opposing at the top of yours."
After the news broke that Albanese's speech was not an original work, Albanese took to twitter: "D'oh! Stuff up (for the record, that comes from another great American, Homer Simpson)," he tweeted.
You can view the speeches side by side on YouTube, courtesy of the Australian morning television show Sunrise. Sorry Mr. Albanese, you're no Michael Douglas.