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November 19, 1987|DEBORAH CAULFIELD and RICK SHERWOOD | Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press

Three songwriters who claim their material was misappropriated for the USA for Africa theme "We Are The World" and other songs filed suit Tuesday in Los Angeles against Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, accusing them of copyright infringement. The federal court suit filed by Robert Smith and Reynaud Jones of Gary, Ind., and Clifford Rubin of Chicago, also alleges that Jackson used "substantial parts" of their material to write two songs for his "Thriller" album. The three seek profits from "We Are the World," which they claim exceed $50 million. Also named in the suit: USA for Africa, the nonprofit foundation that organized the famine relief effort. "Since the money went to Africa to feed the hungry, I don't know what they expect," said USA for Africa president Ken Kragen. "Obviously (the suit) has no merit."

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