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Men At Work lose plagiarism case in Australia (plagiarised a Girl Guides' song)
BBC News ^ | Thursday, 4 February 2010 | no byline

Posted on 02/05/2010 10:10:37 AM PST by a fool in paradise

The Australian band Men at Work are facing a big legal bill after a court ruled it had plagiarised a Girl Guides' song in its 1983 hit, Down Under.

Larrikin Music had claimed the flute riff was stolen from Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, written by Marion Sinclair in 1934.

The federal court in Sydney ordered compensation to be paid.

That amount has yet to be determined but Larrikin's lawyer said it could reach 60% of income from the song.

"It's a big win for the underdog," said Larrikin's lawyer Adam Simpson after the judgment.

Sinclair, who died in 1988, wrote the song for performance at a Girl Guides Jamboree in 1935.

Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree has since been sung by generations of Australian schoolchildren.

A costs hearing will take place in late February, with Larrikin seeking 40%-60% of earnings from songwriters Colin Hay and Ron Strykert and record companies Sony BMG Music Entertainment and EMI Songs Australia.

Down Under, first released in 1983, was used in the closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

A number one in Australia, the US and the UK, the song tells the story of an Australian backpacker touring the world...

(Excerpt) Read more at news.bbc.co.uk ...


TOPICS: Music/Entertainment; Travel
KEYWORDS: australia; copyrightlaw; lawsuit; menatwork; music; plagiarism
Sound links at the original article
1 posted on 02/05/2010 10:10:38 AM PST by a fool in paradise
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To: 537cant be wrong; Aeronaut; bassmaner; Bella_Bru; Big Guy and Rusty 99; Brian Allen; cgk; ...

Rock PING


2 posted on 02/05/2010 10:11:11 AM PST by a fool in paradise ("like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning" Obama 2/4/2010)
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To: a fool in paradise

Good grief... how long are copyrights on songs in Australia anyway?


3 posted on 02/05/2010 10:12:00 AM PST by pnh102 (Regarding liberalism, always attribute to malice what you think can be explained by stupidity. - Me)
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To: a fool in paradise

Plagiarism is men at work, too!


4 posted on 02/05/2010 10:12:54 AM PST by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: a fool in paradise

A local radio station played the two songs involved in this lawsuit. What a stretch, I can’t believe Men at Work lost. I’d think they’d try to appeal, maybe.


5 posted on 02/05/2010 10:13:13 AM PST by the_devils_advocate_666
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To: a fool in paradise

And the Men At Work song was released in 1983, so it took them 27 years ago to figure Men At Work allegedly plagarized a Girl Guide song?


6 posted on 02/05/2010 10:15:35 AM PST by BigSkyFreeper ("Ked Tennedy would have been plowed... I mean, proud today..." - Senator Max Baucus (Drunk-MT))
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To: pnh102
Good grief... how long are copyrights on songs in Australia anyway?

In the USA works published prior to January 1, 1923 are in the public domain. It's a long time!

7 posted on 02/05/2010 10:16:26 AM PST by Voltage
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To: a fool in paradise

I just listened to both, in my mind they are not even close. Men at Work got hosed!!!


8 posted on 02/05/2010 10:17:53 AM PST by sean327 (God created all men equal, then some become Marines!)
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To: Voltage

Utterly ridiculous...the flute part is really an after-thought...not much to do with the original melody that drives the song....and then add the vocal melody and you have an original song. What a friggin joke...


9 posted on 02/05/2010 10:18:39 AM PST by Blue Turtle
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To: the_devils_advocate_666

It sounds like there were maybe 10 notes lifted but that was it...that isn’t quite grounds for plagiarism. It was during the flute break, not really the song’s melody.

I guess there’s a book out called Sounds like Teen Spirit, about intentional lifting (or unintentional?), etc. from one song to the other. May have to pick up one day but I probably already of some cases:

Harrison’s My Sweet Lord/He’s So Fine

Led Zep’s Whole Lotta Love/ Muddy Waters (Willie Dixon)’s
You Need Love

John Fogerty plagiarizing himself: The Old Man Down the Road/ Run Through The Jungle

I also remember an ad for Jamaica tourism; now I don’t know if they got the song rights from Lennon’s estate, but the melody sounded an awful lot like a John and Yoko Christmas tune:

Come back to Jamaica, what’s old is what’s new
We want you to join us, it’s waiting for you

SOUNDED LIKE
So this is Christmas, and what have you done
Another year older, a new one just begun
(Hadn’t heard of it going to court or anything but
I noticed the similarities)


10 posted on 02/05/2010 10:18:48 AM PST by raccoonradio
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To: a fool in paradise

WTF. Maybe three or four notes of the flute riff is like Kookabara. Also is the copyright in AU for 100+ years. This is stretch. And what about any statute of limitations? The Men At Work song in 20+ years old.


11 posted on 02/05/2010 10:18:56 AM PST by Frantzie (TV - sending Americans towards Islamic serfdom - Cancel TV service NOW)
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To: raccoonradio

I probably KNOW already that should say


12 posted on 02/05/2010 10:19:17 AM PST by raccoonradio
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To: qam1; ItsOurTimeNow; PresbyRev; Fraulein; StoneColdGOP; Clemenza; m18436572; InShanghai; xrp; ...
Xer Ping

Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.

Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.

13 posted on 02/05/2010 10:20:26 AM PST by qam1 (There's been a huge party. All plates and the bottles are empty, all that's left is the bill to pay)
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To: a fool in paradise

The two songs sound nothing alike.


14 posted on 02/05/2010 10:24:56 AM PST by isthisnickcool (GIVE ME YOUR MONEY B***!! - President Obama)
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To: Voltage

you know, they have been extending copyrights recently....to infinity and beyond!


15 posted on 02/05/2010 10:45:44 AM PST by BurbankKarl
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To: a fool in paradise

In music, there’s a difference between plaigiarism and quoting. You can’t, obviously, reference your sources in a three minute song. Generally, it’s not considered a problem unless it’s the entire song (see the Ghostbusters vs. I Want a New Drug lawsuit from the 80s between Ray Parker Jr. and Huey Lewis).

You can, however, quote a part of another song. Musicians do it all the time. It’s commonly accepted practice. That’s clearly what happened here. There’s no question he’s quoting the Kookaburra song (he’s sitting in a gum tree in the original video, for pete’s sake), but the real question is whether or not it matters.

I’d say no... along with damn near every pop musician of the last 60 years.


16 posted on 02/05/2010 10:47:17 AM PST by Terabitten (Vets wrote a blank check, payable to the Constitution, for an amount up to and including their life.)
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To: Terabitten

Answer songs (someone’s sequel to someone else’s song) used to be common in the 1950s and 1960s. Some resulted in lawsuits but others did not.

Then the was the tactic of adding No.2 to a title (I’ve seen it with country songs from the 1960s, some parodies but others were answer songs).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Answer_song


17 posted on 02/05/2010 10:53:12 AM PST by a fool in paradise ("like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning" Obama 2/4/2010)
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To: Terabitten

You summed it up nicely. I am very pro-copyright, and I’d hate for any of my published works to get ripped off.

But this is a quotation of a fragment of melody that has come to be recognized as quintessentially Australian—it’s not a ripoff of a whole song or the melodic/harmonic structure thereof. Heck, Mozart was doing it back in the day.

I hope the “damages” are light. I really think this is a stretch of a lawsuit.


18 posted on 02/05/2010 10:56:08 AM PST by Claud
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To: BurbankKarl

Yeah, because of stupid Mickey Mouse. Steamboat Willie should be in the public domain already.


19 posted on 02/05/2010 10:57:13 AM PST by Claud
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To: Claud
I hope the “damages” are light. I really think this is a stretch of a lawsuit.

Ideally, the judge will rule that damages be limited to $1.

20 posted on 02/05/2010 11:03:37 AM PST by Terabitten (Vets wrote a blank check, payable to the Constitution, for an amount up to and including their life.)
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To: a fool in paradise
Iambic Pentameter and other poetic rhythms are NOT copy-write material!!!!

The notes and measures are demonstrably different!

21 posted on 02/05/2010 11:04:05 AM PST by G Larry (DNC is comprised of REGRESSIVES!)
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To: Claud
But this is a quotation of a fragment of melody that has come to be recognized as quintessentially Australian—it’s not a ripoff of a whole song or the melodic/harmonic structure thereof. Heck, Mozart was doing it back in the day.

Hell, Jimi Hendrix quoted "Strangers in the Night" at his famous Monterey Pop Festival performance of Wild Thing (see 2:48 here). Musicians do it all the time. As long as it's not the central theme of the song, it's not only not a big deal, it's generally considered quite a compliment.

22 posted on 02/05/2010 11:10:50 AM PST by Terabitten (Vets wrote a blank check, payable to the Constitution, for an amount up to and including their life.)
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To: a fool in paradise

I recall learning this song decades ago in my elementary school music class. I still remember the tune but not what a Kookaburra is. Even at the time I thought it was annoying to have to sing about something called a Kookaburra. I doubt the publisher of our school music book paid royalties to Australia.


23 posted on 02/05/2010 11:28:59 AM PST by wideminded
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To: wideminded

We learned it in 2nd grade. I swear they said it was a bird.


24 posted on 02/05/2010 11:30:25 AM PST by conservative cat
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To: a fool in paradise

They stink anyway. Not quite as much as the idiots called Midnight Oil though


25 posted on 02/05/2010 12:21:36 PM PST by pissant (THE Conservative party: www.falconparty.com)
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To: pissant

Is there any Australian band that gets your vote?

Olivia Newton John?
The Saints?
AC/DC?
The Easybeats?
Hoodoo Gurus?


26 posted on 02/05/2010 12:24:09 PM PST by a fool in paradise ("like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning" Obama 2/4/2010)
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To: Terabitten
The man who owned publishing rights on Maybelline (Chuck Berry's song) sued John Lennon when the Beatles' released Come Together (for the line "here come ol' flat top, he come moving up slowly...").

The result was a settlement by which John Lennon would record a whole album of cover songs (for which the same man owned publishing rights).

27 posted on 02/05/2010 12:27:39 PM PST by a fool in paradise ("like it or not, we have to have a financial system that is healthy and functioning" Obama 2/4/2010)
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To: a fool in paradise

I touch myself was an Aussie song wasn’t it? LOL


28 posted on 02/05/2010 12:31:54 PM PST by pissant (THE Conservative party: www.falconparty.com)
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To: Terabitten

But isn’t that was Vanilla Ice was sued for by Foreigner, or whoever it was?

“Sampling” - as it’s called now - is not new. Heck, the national anthem for the USA was just a beer-drinking bar song from the UK with original words to it.


29 posted on 02/05/2010 1:11:59 PM PST by Ro_Thunder ("Other than ending SLAVERY, FASCISM, NAZISM and COMMUNISM, war has never solved anything")
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To: Ro_Thunder

Vanilla Ice was indeed sued by Queen, because he used the main riff from “Under Pressure” as the main riff for his song “Ice Ice Baby.”

Legally speaking, using samples is okay as long as the original recording is properly referenced, for instance in the liner notes. It’s called “clearing” and it’s the generally accepted practice.

Musically, sampling sucks.


30 posted on 02/05/2010 1:20:00 PM PST by Terabitten (Vets wrote a blank check, payable to the Constitution, for an amount up to and including their life.)
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To: Terabitten

But the riffs on Under Pressure and Ice Ice Baby were different - slightly. Sure, it sounded a LOT alike, but it wasn’t exactly the same.

Kind of like calling it Mikey Mouse, instead of Mickey Mouse.


31 posted on 02/05/2010 1:51:20 PM PST by Ro_Thunder ("Other than ending SLAVERY, FASCISM, NAZISM and COMMUNISM, war has never solved anything")
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To: Claud; Terabitten

bttt to both of you

Poor Colin Hay :(


32 posted on 02/05/2010 2:12:13 PM PST by lainie (The US congress is full to the brim of absolutely disgusting thieves who deserve humiliating ouster.)
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To: Terabitten
Love the gum tree observation! Yes, a homage is NOT plagiarism.

But while quoting a song is often a common practice, it has been established that you cannot sing 90% of Howlin Wolf's “Killing Floor Blues”, throw in a Robert Johnson line about “squeeze my lemon till the juice runs down my leg”; and then call it “the Lemon Song” (Led Zeppelin)and not pay Howlin Wolf his money.

But the riff on squeezing lemons was obviously not “plagiarizing” Robert Johnson.

33 posted on 02/05/2010 2:18:58 PM PST by allmendream (Income is EARNED not distributed. So how could it be re-distributed?)
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To: lainie; Terabitten

If you go to the Wikipedia page on the Men At Work song, they mention the controversy and they have some links to Aussie forums discussing this. The Aussies think this is insane. People pointed out that the songwriter died without ever making a peep about the Men at Work song, then the label buys the rights from her estate and then sues.

Most of them think the rec company guys are just vultures trying to score some money off of someone else’s work. So at least the rec company is losing the PR war.


34 posted on 02/05/2010 2:37:44 PM PST by Claud
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To: Ro_Thunder
Sure, it sounded a LOT alike, but it wasn’t exactly the same.

Vanilla Ice admitted to sampling it, just electronically cutting out one note.

Regardless, the problem was that that riff was the centerpiece of both songs.

35 posted on 02/05/2010 3:42:29 PM PST by Terabitten (Vets wrote a blank check, payable to the Constitution, for an amount up to and including their life.)
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To: allmendream
Love the gum tree observation! Yes, a homage is NOT plagiarism.

Thanks. I hadn't noticed it myself until someone pointed it out to me on a music forum.

36 posted on 02/05/2010 3:44:36 PM PST by Terabitten (Vets wrote a blank check, payable to the Constitution, for an amount up to and including their life.)
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To: Perdogg; Fred Nerks
the flute riff was stolen from Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, written by Marion Sinclair in 1934

37 posted on 02/06/2010 9:15:59 AM PST by SunkenCiv (Happy New Year! Freedom is Priceless.)
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To: pnh102

Makes me want to chunder....


38 posted on 02/06/2010 9:18:18 AM PST by Kozak (USA 7/4/1776 to 1/20/2009 Reqiescat in Pace)
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To: SunkenCiv

Vultures, IMO. I thought of it more as a tribute to a song every Australian child learned to sing.


39 posted on 02/06/2010 3:24:36 PM PST by Fred Nerks (fair dinkum!)
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