Australian Court Says Men At Work's 'Down Under' Infringes On Folk Song; Only Took Decades To Notice
from the copyright-gone-mad dept
Well, apparently not all Australian courts are sensible when it comes to copyright rulings. While we recently wrote about the wonderful iiNet decision, in the comments, someone pointed to a bad decision made on the same day. It’s a case we wrote about last year involving the famous song Down Under by the band Men at Work — a big hit back in the 1980s. But in 2007, after seeing a joke on a TV trivia program about that song’s similarities to an old Australian folk song, the publisher who held the copyright on the folk song sued. Yes, this was decades after the song was popular, and the publisher, Larrikan Music didn’t notice any similarities at all. It seems like this should be an open-and-shut case. The “use” was minor, at best, and didn’t do any damage to the market for the original song, “Kookaburra,” which is popular among schoolkids, apparently. There’s simply no harm done and anyone with an ounce of common sense should see that.
But… that’s not what the court found. It’s ruled that Men at Work infringed on Kookaburra, and now the band members and their record label need to pay up — potentially huge sums. It’s difficult to see how this makes sense under any sort of copyright regime.