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Men at Work lose in court Down Under
news.com.au ^ | 8th October 2011 | Kristen Gelineau

Posted on 10/10/2011 12:56:14 PM PDT by naturalman1975

AUSTRALIAN band Men at Work lost their final court bid to prove they did not steal the distinctive flute riff of their 1980s hit Down Under from a children's campfire song.

The High Court of Australia on Friday denied the band's bid to appeal a federal court judge's earlier ruling that the group had copied the signature flute melody from the song Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.

Kookaburra was written more than 70 years ago by Australian teacher Marion Sinclair for a Girl Guides competition. Sinclair died in 1988, but publishing company Larrikin Music - which now holds the copyright for Kookaburra - filed a copyright lawsuit in 2009.

Last year, Federal Court Justice Peter Jacobson ruled that the Down Under flute riff replicated a substantial part of Sinclair's song. The judge later ordered Men at Work's recording company, EMI Songs Australia, and Down Under songwriters Colin Hay and Ron Strykert to pay five per cent of royalties earned from the song since 2002 and from its future earnings.

(Excerpt) Read more at news.com.au ...


TOPICS: Australia/New Zealand; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS:
It's a pity the money isn't to go to the Girl Guides (the female equivalent in Australia of the Boy Scouts - although the Scouts are now just the Scouts as they take girls as well, unfortunately). There was a real legal case that they should hold the Copyright rather than Larrikin Music, but they couldn't afford to pursue it.
1 posted on 10/10/2011 12:56:17 PM PDT by naturalman1975
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To: naturalman1975

Neb At Work: Out to Lunch


2 posted on 10/10/2011 1:00:35 PM PDT by mkmensinger
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To: naturalman1975

Men At Work: Out to Lunch


3 posted on 10/10/2011 1:01:02 PM PDT by mkmensinger
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To: naturalman1975

I guess the court didn’t speaka their language.


4 posted on 10/10/2011 1:04:04 PM PDT by WOBBLY BOB (See ya later, debt inflator ! Gone in 4 (2012))
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To: naturalman1975

Ron Strykert, rhythm guitarist, is a good friend of mine. He said they did not copy the flute riff from “Kookoobura”, but admits it is similar, but only coincidental.


5 posted on 10/10/2011 1:07:16 PM PDT by Rennes Templar (Fast & Furious: Holder gone by the end of the year.)
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To: naturalman1975

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry merry king of the bush is he!
Laugh! Kookburra, laugh! Kookaburra!
How gay his life must be!


6 posted on 10/10/2011 1:08:17 PM PDT by rarestia (It's time to water the Tree of Liberty.)
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To: naturalman1975

Oz: Where women glow and lawyers plunder .. 70 years later.


7 posted on 10/10/2011 1:08:45 PM PDT by Leroy S. Mort
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To: Rennes Templar

I simply cannot believe that. Especially as the video clip has the flautist sitting in a gum tree as he plays it (”Kookaburra sits in an old gum tree.”)

I do think there’s a real question as to whether or not the presence of the riff in the song is significant enough to comprise plagiarism - it’s not a major feature of the song at all - but it’s very easy to hear at that point.


8 posted on 10/10/2011 1:14:18 PM PDT by naturalman1975 ("America was under attack. Australia was immediately there to help." - John Winston Howard)
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To: Rennes Templar

I simply cannot believe that. Especially as the video clip has the flautist sitting in a gum tree as he plays it (”Kookaburra sits in an old gum tree.”)

I do think there’s a real question as to whether or not the presence of the riff in the song is significant enough to comprise plagiarism - it’s not a major feature of the song at all - but it’s very easy to hear at that point.


9 posted on 10/10/2011 1:14:38 PM PDT by naturalman1975 ("America was under attack. Australia was immediately there to help." - John Winston Howard)
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To: naturalman1975
Since the verdict, Colin Hay has continued to insist that any plagiarism was wholly unintentional. He says that when the song was originally written in 1978, it did not have the musical passage in question, and that it was not until two years later, during a jam rehearsal session, that flautist Greg Ham improvised the riff, perhaps subconsciously recalling "Kookaburra". Hay has also added that Ham and the other members of the band were under the influence of marijuana during that particular rehearsal.[wikipedia]

I am shocked, shocked that marijuana was used before a jam session!

What's really shocking is that it's not public domain by now.

10 posted on 10/10/2011 1:15:42 PM PDT by Dick Holmes
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To: naturalman1975

Too bad they aren’t black and their music isn’t rap or hip hop.

Cause if it was they’d be free to rip-off any riff from any artist in recorded history. And if they said ‘boo’ about it they’d be RAAAACISTS!!!!


11 posted on 10/10/2011 1:16:50 PM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: mkmensinger
Neb

Has a nice ring to it. Would be a good name for a boy.

12 posted on 10/10/2011 1:18:59 PM PDT by Yardstick
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To: WOBBLY BOB
I guess the court didn’t speaka their language.

Nope.
They just smiled and ruled it a plagiar-ite sandwich

13 posted on 10/10/2011 1:20:53 PM PDT by kidd
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To: Rennes Templar
Ron Strykert, rhythm guitarist, is a good friend of mine. He said they did not copy the flute riff from “Kookoobura”, but admits it is similar, but only coincidental.

Very hard to prove if a riff is stolen, unless it's perfectly obvious (and even then the evidence is circumstancial).

The one that comes to mind for me is Lionel Ritchie's "Mighty Glad you Stayed" (or whatever the hell it was called) having Clapton's "Wondeful Tonight" riff, albeit with a little effect and in a different key.

14 posted on 10/10/2011 1:30:02 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (...then they came for the guitars, and we kicked their sorry faggot asses into the dust)
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To: naturalman1975

If copping phrases from popular tunes is now actionable there are a whole lot of jazz musicians in trouble. BTT.


15 posted on 10/10/2011 1:30:56 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Buckeye McFrog
Cause if it was they’d be free to rip-off any riff from any artist in recorded history. And if they said ‘boo’ about it they’d be RAAAACISTS!!!!

Isn't that a fact. Quite over hearing that, myself.

Try writing something original that doesn't contain a bunch of foul and violent language.

16 posted on 10/10/2011 1:32:17 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (...then they came for the guitars, and we kicked their sorry faggot asses into the dust)
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To: Rennes Templar
Ron Strykert, rhythm guitarist, is a good friend of mine. He said they did not copy the flute riff from “Kookoobura”, but admits it is similar, but only coincidental.

It's possible. I play the Renaissance lute, and I know of at least two pieces from the sixteenth century that open exactly like later works. One is "The Earl of Derby's Galliard," whose opening is exactly the same as "When the Saints Go Marching In." The other is a Vihuela piece titled "Pavana de Alexandra," whose opening is nearly a dead ringer for "Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly."

17 posted on 10/10/2011 1:32:34 PM PDT by Mr Ramsbotham (Laws against sodomy are honored in the breech.)
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To: Rennes Templar

A lot of song copying goes on unintended by the composer, who pursues a melody he conceives as original, but is subconsciously from another song. I have written two full songs in the past couple years that turned out to be generously borrowed from “Independence Day” and “That’s What I Like About Sunday” One even made it on our CD efore I realized the similarities.


18 posted on 10/10/2011 1:34:03 PM PDT by ez ("Abashed the Devil stood and felt how awful goodness is." - Milton, "Paradise Lost")
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To: Dick Holmes
What's really shocking is that it's not public domain by now.

What matters is whether it was public domain in 1981 when the recording was released. The woman who wrote the song was still living till 1988. I'm sure that under Australian law like American law, copyrights extend for some time period beyond the death of the creator.

19 posted on 10/10/2011 1:36:43 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative
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To: the invisib1e hand
Try writing something original that doesn't contain a bunch of foul and violent language.

Or, as Thomas Dolby put it after some hip-hop artist stole riffs from "She Blinded Me With Science" and filled them with obscene lyrics, "if anybody is going to create a sampled hip-hop version of my song and fill it with obscene lyrics, it is bloody well going to be me!"
20 posted on 10/10/2011 1:37:39 PM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: Rennes Templar
Ron Strykert, rhythm guitarist, is a good friend of mine. He said they did not copy the flute riff from “Kookoobura”, but admits it is similar, but only coincidental.

IIRC, only the second half of the riff sounds like "Kookoobura", but it appears that was enough.

Back when that song was released (and given the lyrics), I figured that part of the melody was an homage to some old Australian folk tune. I recognized it, but didn't recall its name (I'll bet it was featured years before on some U.S. children's show such as Captain Kangaroo.

Uh oh... I hope "The Captain" had his stage name cleared through the network legal department.

21 posted on 10/10/2011 1:40:09 PM PDT by Charles Martel (Endeavor to persevere...)
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To: Mr Ramsbotham; the invisib1e hand
To try and explain this in American terms.

Imagine the riff in question being the tune of Yankee Doodle - a traditional American tune that any American is likely to instantly recognise. Specifically, the bit around "Stuck a feather in his hat."

Now, imagine if the band in question had released a video clip that not only had one of the musicians playing that riff, but at exactly the same time, he was putting a feather in his hat.

Would you find it hard to believe that was just coincidence?

That is the situation here - Kookaburra isn't as old, but it's been a standard song virtually all Australian children have learned early in their school days since the 1940s. It's been a campfire song since that time as well. Virtually any Australian will instantly recognise it.

And in the Men at Work videoclip, the person playing it most noticeably is a flautist sitting in a gum tree - and the line is "Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree."

Maybe when they wrote the song, it was unconscious - but by the time they made the film clip they knew what they were doing.

The aural comparison is here at youtube.

The videoclip - the guy in the gum tree is at about the 50 second mark.

22 posted on 10/10/2011 1:43:42 PM PDT by naturalman1975 ("America was under attack. Australia was immediately there to help." - John Winston Howard)
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To: naturalman1975

Not supporting plagiarism, but American music “borrows,” legitimately, all the time — it’s an artistic device, not a substitute for an original idea.


23 posted on 10/10/2011 1:47:35 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand (...then they came for the guitars, and we kicked their sorry faggot asses into the dust)
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To: naturalman1975

Damages are 5% of royalties, backdated to 2002.

File sharing was in full swing in 2002. So 5% of nothing is ????

The plaintiff’s lawyers fees were probably collected as well — they were likely the real winners.


24 posted on 10/10/2011 1:47:58 PM PDT by WL-law
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To: ez

i am surprised that that doesn’t happen more often. With the plethora of record music in our brains, I can see how easy it would be for an artist to think they are composing something original, but in fact is influenced subconsciously by some other recording.


25 posted on 10/10/2011 1:48:18 PM PDT by abigkahuna
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To: naturalman1975
My favorite band of all time, Led Zeppelin, were BIG TIME music thieves.

______________________________________________________________________

"Babe I'm Gonna Leave You" - A folk song by Anne Bredon, this was originally credited as "traditional, arranged by Jimmy Page," then "words and music by Jimmy Page," and then, following legal action, "Bredon/Page/Plant." "Black Mountain Side" - uncredited version of a traditional folk tune previously recorded by Bert Jansch. "Bring It On Home" - the first section is an uncredited cover of the Willie Dixon tune (as performed by the imposter Sonny Boy Williamson). "Communication Breakdown" - apparently derived from Eddie Cochran's "Nervous Breakdown." "Custard Pie" - uncredited cover of Bukka White's "Shake 'Em On Down," with lyrics from Sleepy John Estes's "Drop Down Daddy." "Dazed And Confused" - uncredited cover of the Jake Holmes song (see The Above Ground Sound Of Jake Holmes). "Hats Off To (Roy) Harper" - uncredited version of Bukka White's "Shake 'Em On Down." "How Many More Times" - Part one is an uncredited cover of the Howlin' Wolf song (available on numerous compilations). Part two is an uncredited cover of Albert King's "The Hunter." "In My Time Of Dying" - uncredited cover of the traditional song (as heard on Bob Dylan's debut). "The Lemon Song" - uncredited cover of Howlin' Wolf's "Killing Floor" - Wolf's publisher sued Zeppelin in the early 70s and settled out of court. "Moby Dick" - written and first recorded by Sleepy John Estes under the title "The Girl I Love," and later covered by Bobby Parker. "Nobody's Fault But Mine" - uncredited cover of the Blind Willie Johnson blues. "Since I've Been Lovin' You" - lyrics are the same as Moby Grape's "Never," though the music isn't similar. "Stairway To Heaven" - the main guitar line is apparently from "Taurus" by Spirit. "White Summer" - uncredited cover of Davey Graham's "She Moved Through The Fair." "Whole Lotta Love" - lyrics are from the Willie Dixon blues "You Need Love."

_______________________________________________________________

But, at least they were kick behind musicians.

Today, we have ghetto rip off goofballs like "The Black Eyed Peas" who make a bajillion dollars a year and rip over everything. On top of that, their music still sucks.

26 posted on 10/10/2011 1:50:59 PM PDT by SkyPilot
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To: naturalman1975

It’s a Mistake


27 posted on 10/10/2011 1:54:45 PM PDT by trumandogz (In Rick Perry's Nanny State, the state will drive your kids to the dentist at tax payer expense)
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To: Yardstick

Typing disability.


28 posted on 10/10/2011 2:02:04 PM PDT by mkmensinger
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To: naturalman1975

I thought the lawsuit was Overkill.


29 posted on 10/10/2011 2:05:22 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: naturalman1975; Titan Magroyne; acad1228; Cheapskate; mylife
Sinclair died in 1988, but publishing company Larrikin Music - which now holds the copyright for Kookaburra - filed a copyright lawsuit in 2009.

So it took'em over 20 years to file suit?

The article states that Larrikin wasn't able to seek royalties earned before 2002 because of a statute of limitations, but evidently there's no statute of limitations if you wait around until Colin James Hay's career takes off again and then sue him over a snatch of song he probably didn't even compose since Stu Hamm played the flute part. It's an eight second solo section that was under scrutiny, the longer, second flute solo bears no resemblance to "Kookaburra". That they can snatch 8 seconds from a 3:28 song twenty years after the fact is an outrage.

Did Joe Walsh sue Deep Purple when they ripped off "Meadows" and called it "My Woman From Tokyo?"

Did Alex Van Halen sue Tone Loc when he ripped off "Jammie's Cryin'" for "Wild Thing"?

Did The Chiffons sue George Harrison when he ripped off "He's So Fine" for "My Sweet Lord"?
... oh wait, well never mind.

30 posted on 10/10/2011 2:05:30 PM PDT by Drumbo ("Democracy can withstand anything but democrats." - Jubal Harshaw [Robert A. Heinlein])
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To: Billthedrill
If copping phrases from popular tunes is now actionable there are a whole lot of jazz musicians in trouble.

What about the Byrds copping Coltrane's "India" on Eight Miles High?

31 posted on 10/10/2011 2:07:43 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Drumbo
Did Joe Walsh sue Deep Purple when they ripped off "Meadows" and called it "My Woman From Tokyo?"

HA! Did Martin Barre sue Joe Walsh for his guitar lick on We Used To Know that Joe used on Hotel California? How can music NOT be stolen?

32 posted on 10/10/2011 2:20:23 PM PDT by InvisibleChurch (welcome dies irae)
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To: SkyPilot

Gallows Pole might be another. But again they did a kickbutt
job with it, especially the mandolin part.


33 posted on 10/10/2011 2:23:01 PM PDT by RitchieAprile
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To: dfwgator
I will confess I didn't recognize that one and I'm familiar with both tunes. Wow, you're right. 5% of Eight Miles High is a lot of loot. Wonder if anyone owns 'Trane's copyrights...
34 posted on 10/10/2011 2:26:13 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: abigkahuna

If some skunk really wants to foul the punchbowl, all he needs to do is load a computer up with songs from the top 40s or whatever, and program the darn thing to look for melodic duplicates between them. Then breathlessly clue in the owner of the earlier copyright where duplicates exist.


35 posted on 10/10/2011 2:26:57 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (There's gonna be a Redneck Revolution! (See my freep page) [rednecks come in many colors])
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To: naturalman1975

Copyright over 30 years is ridiculous. At that point, the artist should make something different and not retire for lack of incentive. At the very least the “heirs” should profit little to none.


36 posted on 10/10/2011 2:28:14 PM PDT by glorgau
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To: naturalman1975

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he
Laugh, Kookaburra! Laugh, Kookaburra!
Gay your life must be


37 posted on 10/10/2011 2:28:27 PM PDT by ari-freedom
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38 posted on 10/10/2011 2:30:52 PM PDT by TheOldLady (FReepmail me to get ON or OFF the ZOT LIGHTNING ping list)
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To: naturalman1975

“I do think there’s a real question as to whether or not the presence of the riff in the song is significant enough to comprise plagiarism...”

We just live in a litigious society... 5 secs of “stolen” material...and they want how much?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Av7tOiq-aw8&feature=related


39 posted on 10/10/2011 3:22:24 PM PDT by Rennes Templar (Fast & Furious: Holder gone by the end of the year.)
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To: naturalman1975

Everything’s upside down down under!


40 posted on 10/10/2011 3:23:53 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Let us prey!)
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To: All

Here’s another one. As far as I know there has been no lawsuit. “I’m Too Sexy” by Right Said Fred uses an 18 note phrase (at 1:13 in the video)...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39YUXIKrOFk&ob=av3e

from Jimmy Hendrix’s “Third Stone From The Sun” (at 0:42 in the video)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUg7xl4kKUw


41 posted on 10/10/2011 3:30:37 PM PDT by deks ("...the battle of our time is the battle of liberty against the overreach of the federal government")
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To: Rennes Templar

Less than 5-seconds even...I think the second phrase in that 5-second clip actually has different intervals between the notes, giving it a minor chord sound.


42 posted on 10/10/2011 3:40:13 PM PDT by deks ("...the battle of our time is the battle of liberty against the overreach of the federal government")
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To: rarestia

I’m the only one I ever knew who sang this in class. We always over sold the word “gay” with extra emphasis on the word and was never made to stop. I dread to think what would happen to us if we we’re students and did that now.


43 posted on 10/10/2011 3:52:08 PM PDT by Hillarys Gate Cult (Those who trade land for peace will end up with neither one.)
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To: naturalman1975

Looks like a case of “Lawyers at Work”.


44 posted on 10/10/2011 4:57:31 PM PDT by GreylineRider ( Raised to respect "truth, justice, and the American way".)
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To: Hillarys Gate Cult

LOL! We used to overemphasize ‘gay’ as well.

This was more of a Boy Scout song, as I recall, but we might have sung it in kindergarten as well.

Either way, I def. remember this song, and I always thought that was the riff that Men At Work used in that song.


45 posted on 10/11/2011 4:30:05 AM PDT by rarestia (It's time to water the Tree of Liberty.)
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