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Garth Brooks accused of plagiarizing hit song

LOS ANGELES, Jan 13- (Reuters) - Country music star Garth Brooks was in court Tuesday to defend himself against a songwriter's claim that the singer plagiarized another song for his hit ``Standing Outside the Fire.''

A federal jury was sworn in after a selection process in which U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lew questioned prospective panelists about their musical tastes.

Brooks, wearing jeans with a Western-style buckle, listened to the proceedings and conferred with his lawyers. He smiled when prospective jurors mentioned his music.

Brooks, who last Sunday won a ``People's Choice Award'' as best country artist, has been sued with his record companies for copyright infringement.

The plaintiff, Guy Thomas, alleged Brooks took his song ``Conviction of the Heart'' -- which was recorded in 1993 by Kenny Loggins -- and turned it into ``Standing Outside the Fire.''

He claims his production company, Southshore Music, owns the rights to ``Standing Outside the Fire,'' which is featured on Brooks' 5 million selling album ``In Pieces.''

Thomas is seeking unspecified damages from Brooks, Liberty Records and Capitol Records.

The song is listed on Brooks' album as being written by Jenny Yates, who was also in court Tuesday.

After the jury was chosen, Brooks spoke to reporters, saying he was ``embarrassed'' by the charge of plagiarism. The attack on his integrity, he said, is ``the toughest for me -- that people call me a thief and say I stole something from them.''

 


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