7:03 AM PT -- Jackson's attorney, Rachel E. Jackson, tells us, "The only people who have claimed authorship are the two people who did not write it and could not have written it--Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck. Indeed, the lawsuit seems to admit as much claiming that the work has no copyright because it is part of a folk tradition. Yet Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck claim authorship; first on the digital release of 18, and, later, on the vinyl release of 18."
Johnny Depp and Jeff Beck are firing back at the author who claimed they jacked lyrics to one of their songs from an old poem ... calling the whole thing a cash grab.
Johnny and Jeff just filed a lawsuit against folklorist Bruce Jackson, who accused the duo of stealing the lyrics to their song "Sad Motherf*****g Parade" from an old toast performed by an inmate and shared in one of Jackson's books.
According to the suit, obtained by TMZ, Johnny and Jeff say the toast, known as "Hobo Ben," doesn't have clear origins, and they claim Jackson even admitted the person who shared the poem with him admitted it was passed down over time like an old folktale.
In other words, they say it belongs to no one.
The "Hobo Ben" toast goes ... "Ladies of culture and beauty so refined, is there one among you that would grant me wine? I'm raggedy I know, but I have no stink, and God bless the lady that'll buy me a drink. Heavy-hipted Hattie turned to Nadine with a laugh, and said, 'What that funky motherf***** really need, child, is a bath.'"
The song lyrics on Johnny and Jeff's new album feature similar lines to the "Hobo Ben" poem ... "I'm raggedy, I know, but I have no stink. God bless a lady that'll buy me a drink" ... and "What that funky motherf***** really need, child, is a bath."
In their suit, Johnny and Jeff claim Jackson fired off legal letters asserting he was the rightful owner of the "the only known authorized transcription and recording of 'Hobo Ben"' ... but the pair claims Jackson tellingly never said he owned the rights to the toast itself because he knew he couldn't own a copyright to an old folktale.
Jackson's also blasted Johnny and Jeff in the media, telling Rolling Stone ... "I've been publishing stuff for 50 years, and this is the first time anybody has just ripped something off and put his own name on it."
Johnny and Jeff are ripping Jackson for what they say is "an old-fashioned shakedown" and they want damages and for a judge to declare they didn't commit copyright infringement by using parts of the "Hobo Ben" toast in their song.