Thoughts by TNT
Men at Work may come from a land down under, but after a recent court hearing, the band will have to pay royalties after the judge ruled their hit single from 1982 “Down Under” was partly copied from popular folk song “Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree” by Marion Sinclair. It was a portion of the flute riff that mimics the classic tune. Can you hear the similarities?
“Fact of the matter is that it went unrecognized for 27 years because it was unconscious, it was innocuous, naive” states Colin Hay
Now, as I can clearly hear the Kookaburra tune in the flute riff, I wouldn’t call this copyright infringement, especially since it went unrecognized for 27 years. Marion Sinclair, a school teach from Australia, wrote this song in 1932 and it was copyrighted in 1934. Ms. Sinclair passed away in 1988 and the rights to her song were renewed, or better yet, purchased by Larrikin Music in 1989 for $6,100. The owners of the copyright saw an episode of ABC’s Spicks and Specks (an Australian music-themed comedic television quiz show) in 2007 and it prompted legal action against the band for the similarities. Copyright laws state that the original composer gets life plus 70 years. I’m sure none of this would have happened if Larrikin Music did not have the rights, and this is why I find the case to be unfair and unjust. Men at Work was ordered to pay just 5% of royalties from the hit song dating back to 2002 and of course future royalties, which is better than the original asking of 40-60% of ALL royalties since the creation of “Down Under”. Poor Colin Hay and Ron Strykert. What do you think about this case? Is this fair or unjust?