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Men At Work Ordered To Pay 5% Of Earnings On 'Down Under' Over Copyright Claim

from the kookaburra-this dept

Last summer we were among those amazed at the claim from a music publisher that the popular 80’s song, “Down Under,” by the band, Men at Work, supposedly infringed on a popular Australian folk tune, Kookaburra, that was written back in the 1930s. The publisher who sued, Larrikin, had only taken possession of the copyright on the folk tune in 2000, and didn’t even notice the similarity until a TV quiz show pointed it out. You would think that this, alone, should make any copyright claim null and void. But… not to the Australian courts, who first ruled that the song infringed earlier this year and now (thanks to sinsi for pointing this out) have said that the band needs to pay Larrikin 5% of its royalties from 2002 onward. The only “good” news is that Larrikin had asked for 60%, even though the use of Kookaburra is limited to a little flute solo, and is clearly an homage to the song. Also, since the royalties only start in 2002, well after the song has faded from popularity, it may limit what Larrikin gets. Still, the whole lawsuit, and the fact that this was found to be infringing, is a bit of a travesty.

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Companies: larrikan music

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Comments on “Men At Work Ordered To Pay 5% Of Earnings On 'Down Under' Over Copyright Claim”

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Anonymous Coward says:

An interesting observation of the decision by Judge Jacobson in the matter of Larrikn v. EMI et al.:

The damages which follow from my findings on liability are not damages for copyright infringement [emphasis mine]. Rather, they are damages under the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) (“the Act”) for misrepresentations made by the respondents to collecting societies, the Australasian Performing Right Association (“APRA”) and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (“AMCOS”).

Joe Harkins says:

a hoax? looks like one

I guess no one else has picked up on the Aussie meaning of the word Larrikin. I think you all have been punked.

Here’s the first two returns on a Google search for the word.

Larrikinism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The term larrikin was used to refer to “a mischievous or frolicsome youth”, as reported in the Supplement, English Dialect Dictionary, editor J. Wright, …
Etymology – Evolution of Larrikin culture – Larrikin – See also
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larrikinism – Cached – Similar

larrikin: Definition from Answers.com
Sep 6, 2006 … larrikin n. Australian A person given to comical or outlandish behavior. [Origin unknown.]
http://www.answers.com/topic/larrikin – Cached – Similar

It’s kind of the Oz equivalent of Til Eulenspeigel or those guys in New York who do the pantsless subway ride event every year.

vacuum369 (profile) says:


This is yet another example of Golddigging! It’s Pathetic, the song in question (a classic by the way) was released almost 30 years ago, and the band Men At Work are long out of the mainstream. What (ethical) reason could these publishers have for trying to extract money from these musicians? NONE that I can see, especially since they did not even own these rights when the song was a radio hit! Folk music NEVER sold as well as Pop Music! It seems to me, Men at work borrowing a melody from Kookaburough would only HELP bring in revenue! The way the entertainment industry is heading Scares Me!

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