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Old 02-07-2010, 12:33 AM
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Pollyanna Pollyanna is offline
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Default Thought-provoking copyright ruling down under

A leading Australian band in the 80s called Men at Work had a huge hit called A Land Down Under. The company, Larrikin Music, that had purchased the rights for an old Australian folk tune called Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree has successfully sued Men at Work because they claimed the flute melody in the song was based on the folk tune.

Article link.

My understanding has always been that, to infringe copyright, the portion of a song that resembles an original tune needs to be a major element of that song's success and the level of damages proportionate to the part's importance.

Men at Work: A Land Downunder

The Kookaburra Song

Some quotes from today's Letter to the Editor today:
"As a professional musician I understand the importance of copyright (''Infringement Down Under'', February 5). But all Larrikin Music has managed to do is turn two classic Australian songs (neither of which it had any part in writing) against each other - all for the sake of monetary gain because its owners found they were sitting on a potential goldmine while watching Spicks And Specks one night. How can they honestly ask for 60 per cent of profits and keep a straight face?"
"Quotation has been a standard tool of composers and musicians for centuries. It may be the last refuge of the uninspired jazz soloist, but it can also be applied with genius, as in the Bach Goldberg variations. In the 15th century whole liturgical choral works were often fashioned around the cryptic use of contemporary songs.

Now, thanks to a few greedy individuals and an ignorant judgment, it is the preserve of the legal system..."
"... So now a short series of notes, set in a different key, can invalidate copyright. I am sure that if anyone cares to look hard enough they could find fragments of melodies that invalidate every song written in the past couple of hundred years.

Now the new owners of the song want their millions, despite not having anything to do with the creation of the song, nor any of the risk associated with trying to sell it. But that seems to be the norm for movie and music companies, doesn't it?"
"Larrikin did not write Kookaburra and acquired the rights to it well after Men At Work's hit. In short, it suffered nothing from the release of Down Under. Its gaming of intellectual property law should not be rewarded. If anything, any payments should be made to the estate of the original composer, Marion Sinclair, not faceless men with no artistry or creativity."

That's a good term ... the "gaming of intellectual property law". Not good news for song writers.
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Old 02-07-2010, 12:53 AM
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Default Re: Thought-provoking copyright ruling down under

Polly,

What a shame to say the least, I was looking through other posts and came across this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCyB2...eature=related which you probably heard as well, but I did not see the depth of similarity that would cause these jokers to jump on their soap box. I would have to agree that it was not they who suffered at all since they did not have the rights to this song while the Men @ Work did their thing. Yes, this truly is a HOAX in my estimation.

I too believe that if we all meticulously combed through each and every song we could find infringement, but COME ON this one is stretching the line on this one.

Shameful!!!

JIM
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Old 02-07-2010, 05:00 AM
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hauk hauk is offline
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Default Re: Thought-provoking copyright ruling down under

I think the whole idea of buying rights to a song (other than just the right to publish it) is ridiculous. Why should a company (or individual) have any stake in the artistic content of a song they didn't write, record, or even fund in the first place?
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Old 02-07-2010, 06:08 AM
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Pocket-full-of-gold Pocket-full-of-gold is offline
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Default Re: Thought-provoking copyright ruling down under

Nonsense Pol.......utter nonsense. What's the right of appeal?
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Old 02-07-2010, 07:58 AM
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Default Re: Thought-provoking copyright ruling down under

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Originally Posted by Pocket-full-of-gold View Post
Nonsense Pol.......utter nonsense. What's the right of appeal?
They can take it to the full bench at the NSW Court of Appeal (and I'm sure they will). If that fails they can go to the High Court.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hauk
I think the whole idea of buying rights to a song (other than just the right to publish it) is ridiculous. Why should a company (or individual) have any stake in the artistic content of a song they didn't write, record, or even fund in the first place?
I don't have a problem with that. If the rights are sold by the artist to the company then on a basic level that sale of intellectual property is no different to the sale of a bricks and mortar company constructed by an owner-builder. The creator has sold his or her stake.

A bit weird that they can claim damages for the alleged use of the folk song before they even owned it, though. And you'd think that if it was genuine intellectual property theft it would be so obvious that action would have been taken 30 years ago.
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Old 02-07-2010, 08:48 AM
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Default Re: Thought-provoking copyright ruling down under

I heard some coverage on this earlier this week. They played the two clips and I couldn't hear any striking similarity. Gave it closer scrutiny now, and still can't come up with anything obvious. Lame case. Sad story.

If you're staring up in the sky on a breezy partly cloudy day looking for a cloud shape that resembles a smiley face, you'll eventually find something you can convince yourself is close.
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Old 02-08-2010, 04:28 PM
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Default Re: Thought-provoking copyright ruling down under

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Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
If you're staring up in the sky on a breezy partly cloudy day looking for a cloud shape that resembles a smiley face, you'll eventually find something you can convince yourself is close.
Very apt line Mike. Suggest we transfer music lawyers to Moldy's hate thread.
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