Men At Work Musician Found Dead; Ridiculous Copyright Ruling Against Band Blamed

from the copyright-victims dept

While the iiNet case has been nothing but good news for copyright in Australia, over the past few years, at nearly the same time, there's been an important copyright case concerning fair use that has been nothing but an ugly splotch on Australian copyright law: the fight over whether or not the band Men at Work infringed on the copyright of an old Australian folk song, Kookaburra. The details of the case were really stunning once you looked at them. The Men at Work song clearly had a very brief flute line that paid homage to the folk song, but was an entirely different song on its own. Furthermore, the lawsuit came many decades after the song, "Down Under," had been a huge hit. At best, the case should have been dumped for the delay in bringing it. Even more ridiculous, the holder of the copyright, Larrikan Music, didn't even notice the supposed infringement itself, until an exec heard about it on a TV trivia show.

Still, bizarrely, the Australian courts repeatedly ruled in favor of Larrikan. When Australia's High Court refused to hear the appeal, the awful appeals court ruling stood, saying that the song infringed, and 5% of its royalties belonged to Larrikan.

As a bunch of people are sending in, it appears that this story has a truly tragic ending, as Men at Work band member Greg Ham has been found dead -- with multiple stories suggesting that this particular case and the ruling completely destroyed his life:
"I'm terribly disappointed that that's the way I'm going to be remembered - for copying something..."
Other reports say that he was so distraught over the ruling, he went back to using heroin and abusing alcohol. While he clearly had issues to deal with beyond this, it does appear that the ruling helped push him over the edge. That's really quite tragic.


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:11am

    That's a first..

    So, has the improper interpretation of copyright goals created a malpractice case? So essentially, has application of law, designed to protect artistic works created an environment where entertainmeny lawyers and attorneys can be held liable for malpractice and mis-application of law that can resuly in yhe death of musicians?

    What a bad lawyer. He should have just reccomended a royalty payment. Now the singer is dead.

     

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  2. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:14am

    BLAME COPYRIGHT!

    Damn it Mike, you finally have an actual death you can somehow manage to link to copyright. This has got to be a happy day at Floor64.

    RIP for the poor dude, stop trying to make your bones off of his death you creep.

     

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  3.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:16am

    Re:

    Uh, stop suing him over nonsense and perhaps he wouldn't have died?

     

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  4.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:17am

    Re: Really?!

    You are apparently an ass.

    When laws become so bad they are a contributing factor in the death of creative people it should be made public knowledge...

    And here you are, decrying "profit!" about this informative missive. WTF is your problem?

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:18am

    Re:

    Mike has to throw you people a bone once in a while, or else you'd never win at anything.

     

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  6.  
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    redpola (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:20am

    The irony of this is that there was obviously no theft. The case was based around 11 notes in sequence, and any musician can discern that one phrase is in a major key and the other in a minor key. The sequence if notes is not the same. As to whether it is similar, then let's talk about the three chord trick that the majority of pop music since the early 50s is based around.

     

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  7.  
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    Leigh Beadon (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:21am

    Re:

    Um, it wasn't Mike's idea to link his death to the copyright case. Maybe try reading the source material for once.

    The cause of death remains unknown, but a close friend of Ham's said last night he believed Ham, who had been on a methadone program, had begun using heroin again ''heavily'' and abusing alcohol after the Kookaburra trial. ''The whole case had undone him,'' the friend said.

     

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    Jesse (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:22am

    If we compare this to the techdirt coverage of the Lori Drew case...

    As you said, he had problems well beyond some court ruling. A suicidal person is hardly a reason unto itself to change the law.

    That said the law should be changed for many other reasons. This is not one of them.

     

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  9.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:26am

    Blaming copyright is pretty low. There's also alcohol, drugs, possibly depression, and who knows what else. Let's have a little respect here.

     

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  10.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:35am

    New Public Awareness Campaign!

    .


    "Remember Kids, Copyright KILLS!"



    .

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:37am

    Re: New Public Awareness Campaign!

    Copyright kills artists.

     

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  12.  
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    GeneralEmergency (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:40am

    Re: New Public Awareness Campaign!

    .


    MadMen....here I come.



    .

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re:

    But Mike talked about it, which is apparently the same as saying it.

     

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  14.  
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    Mesonoxian Eve (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So, by your logic, because you have a dick, you are one?

    Great. I'll keep this reference for the future.

     

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  15.  
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    Rapnel (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 9:59am

    Re:

    BLAME CUNTS!

     

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  16.  
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    Brendan (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 10:01am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I was really confused for a few moments. Your snowflake is highly similar to the ridiculous GP, and I thought you were him/her/it.

     

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  17.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 10:28am

    Re:

    If you'd bother to read the source material you'd find that it wasn't Mike that made the connection but others and was reprinted in newspapers and, I'm sure, spread by other media in "The Land Down Under", if I can say that without infringing on Larrikan's copyright.

    For whatever reasons he relapsed into his addictions and died. That's tragic. All over a flute solo that was a few seconds long.

    Save your faux outrage for Larrikan, if it's outrage you want.
    Save your faux outrage for IP maximalism if you need outrage.

    Me? I'll stick to regret and sadness that the world is less one talented and skill musician and songwriter. And the loss of one more traveler down the road of addiction and recovery that I'm on. (11 years clean and sober next month.) I know that place he went to, I've been there myself over the years. I just wish I could have helped somehow.

    He didn't copy, he paid homage two different things yet somehow the Aussie courts couldn't figure that out.

    Nor will he be remembered for copying but for the hours of joy and entertainment he and his bandmates brought to the world even at their most serious.

    For Greg and his family: "Rest Eternal grant to Greg, oh Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon him."

     

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  18.  
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    Ed C., Apr 20th, 2012 @ 10:32am

    Now only if rulings such as iiNet would drive media execs to OD. Obviously their level of delusion requires something far stronger than heroin. Oh wait, I forgot. OD on K-Street drugs such as Greed generally lead the to the deaths of others.

     

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  19.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 10:34am

    Re:

    I respectfully disagree that blaming copyright as the trigger event is wrong. By all reports he was never the same after the High Court ruling, all over an 11 note sequence.

    With all respect, and I mean that seriously, please don't judge unless you've been to the places he'd been in terms of his addictions and whatnot. You'll never know. I pray you never will.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 10:34am

    Re:

    What's funny with the whole "he had other problems besides..." argument, is that it constantly displaces the blame to "something else".

    People don't commit suicide because it's their nature. Suicide is mostly the result of the environment or in other words, the things that happen in your life.
    Place somebody through enough stress and trouble, and they are very likely to take their own life sooner or later.

    Did the trial and court ruling make him kill himself? Yes.
    He had drug problems, but those were worsened by the trial. Indirectly, the court ruling is responsible. And the court ruling was not simply the final drop that spilled the cup: it was the majority of the water in the cup.

    Yes, this is what happens when society or people cause important problems for others - sometimes some people just have way too much and can't deal with it, and then they take their own lives.
    And let's stop claiming that no single event can be more than 1% responsible for a person's suicide. Some cases of suicide have been caused by a single event. There doesn't need to be a long list of problem, the only thing that matters is how serious the problem(s) is/are.

     

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  21.  
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    Atkray (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 10:40am

    Re:

    So Tyler Clementi kills himself and it is ok to ruin Dharun Ravi's life.

    But if overaggressive copyright cause someone to kill themselves by consuming copious amounts of heroin, then his problem is he was suicidal and the copyright hammer that trashed his reputation has nothing to do with it.

    well maybe its the difference between the US and Austraila because otherwise it makes no sense to me.

    Either messing with someone is ok period or messing with them and causing them to commit suicide is wrong, whether they are gay, or an artist or any other classification or label that society wants to apply, is irrelevant.

     

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  22.  
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    Delbert Duggles, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 10:40am

    A brief quotation of a "lick" is not infringement. Jazz musicians in the '30s & '40s & since are quoting from everywhere all the time.

    This is reminiscent of George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" which also did not infringe to the extent it went off in its own harmonic direction & had nothing whatsoever to do with plaintiff's tune.

    Music majors (like me back in the '70s) that had to take theory courses can recognize the circuitous routes that a piece of music follows as it dances between tonic & dominant & subdominant & everywhere in between---something that lawyers & juries know naught about.

     

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  23.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    And someday they'll drop and he'll be a real boy.

     

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  24.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re:

    Even without Clementi's death Ravi's life would still have been ruined.
    It is unlikely that Clementi would have let up in following up his demand for a new room. The fact that there was a violation of the law in the spying via webcam, and all of the coverup of that and a 2nd "viewing" party idea. The fact he tried to coach witnesses and get testimony to be changed to make him look like he was a. less of an asshole and b. just making jokes. He broke several laws, while I dislike the whole they got him just for 'causing' the suicide, he did plenty wrong.

     

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  25.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 10:55am

    Re: New Public Awareness Campaign!

    Copyright is more important than investigating Child Porn.

     

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  26.  
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    Cowardly Anonymous, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:00am

    Re:

    The difference here is that the law is held to a different kind of standard. Neither an individual nor a law can be perfect, but an individual has specific value in and of themselves that must be considered. A law that does not serve its purpose or can be shown to have significantly adverse side effects can simply be altered or stricken altogether, because it doesn't have this intrinsic value.

    A suicide points points to a problem area. When this problem happens to be a single incident, the question then becomes: can we fix this problem, and if so, how?

    In the case of someone deliberately inciting suicide, we consider that a form of murder, and fix it legislatively. In the case of someone accidentally inciting suicide, the question is far less clear cut, as triggers are highly subjective and the prior restraint involved is too substantial to be feasible legislatively. As such, we need to take a different tack in fixing the problem.

    In the case where the exercise of a given law is the cause, the solution must be bound up legislatively. There is no other valid solution, as the problem space is defined in legislative terms.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re:

    "If you'd bother to read the source material you'd find that it wasn't Mike that made the connection but others and was reprinted in newspapers and, I'm sure, spread by other media in "The Land Down Under", if I can say that without infringing on Larrikan's copyright."

    Are you suggesting that Mike running it, structuring it in a rather inflammatory way, isn't to score some points here?

    This is a case where Mike is trying to score points by being a ghoul. It's freaking disgusting.

     

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  28.  
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    DannyB (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:05am

    Re: Re: New Public Awareness Campaign!

    An anonymous accusation of Child Porn is the ultimate weapon for copyright maximalists.

     

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  29.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:09am

    Re:

    Copyrights are "FOR THE ARTISTS!!!"...dead or alive?..the labels don't care.

     

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  30.  
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    Jeff (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The only thing that is disgusting is your lack common sense.

     

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  31.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re: Re:

    He typed it and posted it...technically never said it (to you nor I, anyways).

     

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  32.  
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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:14am

    I would say this is a "working as intended" situation as far as big content is concerned, it will "keep people in their place" thinking they could endup like this poor bloke if they have the gull to be creative without being under the thumb of big content...

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Don't worry, you're the only ghoul here.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:23am

    Re: Re:

    Umm, wow.

    The court case didn't kill him. His personal abuse of drugs and booze appear to be the case.

    Some may say "it was the court case", but it's clearly way more complicated. Why was none of his family or friends there to help him? Why was it tolerated to see this guy sinking himself?

    As you guys always say, if you blame the lawsuit, you should also blame the company that made the paper that it was printed on. Do we have absolutely no PERSONAL liability or responsibility anymore? Has it always got be be "something"?

    I think it's disgusting that people would go there, and I think it very low class that Mike would run the story with this take on it. Yes, it's other people's words, but it's his site and his take as well.

    Disgusting.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re:

    "A suicide points points to a problem area. When this problem happens to be a single incident, the question then becomes: can we fix this problem, and if so, how?"

    When someone is bad, we should send them to their room without dinner and no TV. That will teach them, without making them actually responsible for their actions.

     

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  36.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ah, the opportunistically offended, ladies and gentlemen! How cute!

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    OMG!!! Semantics! Word-stealers!

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re: Really?!

    "When actions of people are so bad they are a contributing factor in the death of creative people it should be made public knowledge..."

    Okay - he copied something, felt guilty, and killed himself.

    Can we move on now?

     

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  39.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 11:52am

    We at least need some consistency

    I've noticed that when there is press about a death and it appears to reinforce our beliefs, we say the two are related and use that to show the damage caused by whatever we don't like.

    Whenever there is a death and there is a suggestion to link it to something we believe in, we discount a causal connection.

    In other words, we use public deaths as a way to support our already established beliefs, and treat them as unrelated incidents when they appear to undermine our already established beliefs.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Really?!

    Nope. And copying ain't wrong.

     

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  41.  
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    The eejit (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Really?!

    Not copying, adapting. Everything is a remix of a remix of a remix.

     

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  42.  
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    Gregory, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 12:35pm

    aw

    The drugs and alcohol made me do it.

     

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  43.  
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    FITZ!, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, you don't understand. The court ordered that Ham resume using deadly substances. Most people just get hit with some sort of monetary penalty, which they can deal with maturely. This was just an instance of copyright law giving artists no other choice but drugs.

    I apologize to everyone for being harsh about this man's tragic death, but I'm flabbergasted to see such support for the notion that a copyright decision on one song that said he used copied material in any way caused his death. To espouse that view is to believe that he had nothing else to live for after losing 5% royalties and being perceived as an infringer. He could promote his music that hadn't been tainted by the courts. He could make more music. He could work to change the law and reverse the decision if it meant that much to him.
    In short, there are plenty of ways Ham could've gotten over this decision, but he chose not to.

     

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  44.  
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    Bengie, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 12:55pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Do we have absolutely no PERSONAL liability or responsibility anymore?"

    Nope, and that's why we have draconian copyright laws.

    As much as I would *like* to believe a person has control over themselves, I believe even more that a person is mostly a product of their environment and society as a whole is ultimately the "one" responsible for what people do.

    He was a victim of a failed system.

    Change the system, change the people.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    While he clearly had issues to deal with beyond this, it does appear that the ruling helped push him over the edge.

     

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  46.  
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    minijedimaster (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 12:59pm

    Re:

     

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  47.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    He was a victim of a failed system.

    Change the system, change the people.


    Actually I'm advocating that we change the entire world economic system. Don't just focus on IP laws. Let's push for a total remake.

    Here's a good place for ideas. I have nothing to do with the organization, but they have collected lots of good resources here.

    The Foundation for P2P Alternatives - P2P Foundation

     

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  48.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    To quote a certain Anonymous Shill:

    "Win or lose, he lost!"

    "It's not about winning or losing, is about taking his will to live!"

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Really?!

    "Okay - he copied something, felt guilty, and killed himself."

    Wow... just.... WOW. There's a creeper here and it sure as shit isn't Mike...

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 1:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Theft of words is serious business and causes untold economic harm every year.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Speaking of structuring things in a rather inflammatory way and generally being a ghoul:

    "Okay - he copied something, felt guilty, and killed himself."

    Seriously. Like an ass.

     

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  52.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Why was none of his family or friends there to help him? Why was it tolerated to see this guy sinking himself?


    How do you know that his friends or family weren't there for him? How do you know he wasn't getting offers of help and support?

    Here's the tricky thing about serious suicidal depression: often, there is literally nothing that can be done to help such a person.

     

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  53.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 2:22pm

    Medical bills and all the other financial problems around the world that lead to depression/despondency

    I just read this and thought of the people forced into bankruptcy because of medical bills. There are many issues that lead to financial ruin in the world and most of them affect more people than copyright lawsuits. So I'll put in a word for the need for a better way to handle medical costs in the US.

    And actually, the quote is interesting in that Ham was referring to gaining income from the song and what he would lose in the future. So he, too, was part of the song copyright system.

    Death of Men at Work's Greg Ham investigated by police | Music | guardian.co.uk: Ham has always denied stealing the flute melody and said last year the court ruling might mean his financial ruin. "I'll never see another cent out of that song again," he told theAge.com. "We'll face massive legal costs. At the end of the day, I'll end up selling my house."

     

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  54.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 2:43pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    If you want ghoulish coverage of this death there's plenty of it in the gutter press (tabloids) in Australia.

    I didn't take this as ghoulish and I don't know.

    Again, point your fake outrage somewhere else.

     

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  55.  
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    DC, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 2:48pm

    Re: That's a first..

    A royalty payment for a riff from a folk song?

     

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  56.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Pot...kettle.

     

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  57.  
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    JMT (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 3:23pm

    Re:

    "Let's have a little respect here."

    Very little respect was shown for the music Greg Ham created for the song.

    Is it really too hard for you to see that the stress of the court case, which would never have happened if copyright law wasn't so ridiculous, was a direct contributor to that depression? You've obviously never dealt with depression if you can't. Stress is a common trigger.

     

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  58.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 3:30pm

    “using heroin and abusing alcohol”

    So merely using one drug is automatically bad, but for the other it’s not?

     

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  59.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Re:

    "this is what happens when society or people cause important problems for others - sometimes some people just have way too much and can't deal with it, and then they take their own lives.
    And let's stop claiming that no single event can be more than 1% responsible for a person's suicide."

    Bingo!

    I'm not at all sure what caused this man to take his life outside of the court ruling, if anything, but there doesn't have to be a cluster of issues going on for a suicide to result. You're also right in that it's the perception of how serious the problem(s) is/are to the person who commits suicide. For that person, at that moment, there is no other way out.

    That's why I asked people earlier not to judge Greg Ham on this unless they've been in his shoes or the place he was in until he came to the decision to take his own life. With all due respect to FITZ! everything you say is or may be true but to Greg Ham it wasn't. He'd reached the end of his rope, in his mind, and there was no way he could get out. It's irrational to most of us but to him it was entirely rational. Again, until you've been there you can't judge. Maybe if you've sat at the other end of a crisis centre phone line talking to someone in that state you have a very good idea. If you've ever been suicidal yourself, though, you DO know. I don't know of a worse place to be emotionally, physiologically, morally or ethically but the person in that state "knows" there is no other way.

    It doesn't matter, no matter what, it was tragic. That's not debatable.

    And yes, that's the problem with the argument's about "other" problems. It defects from the triggering event. And for some, makes them feel better about it and for some...ohhh so superior.

     

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  60.  
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    TtfnJohn (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 4:43pm

    Re: We at least need some consistency

    Agreed.

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 4:49pm

    Re: Re: New Public Awareness Campaign!

    It wasn't copyright that killed him. It was that #$&^@* vegemite sandwich!

     

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  62.  
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    Coyote, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 4:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Really?!

    So, by your logic, copying is illegal, he felt guilty he copied something illegally -- which all artists do to some extent, no matter who they are -- and..killed himself.

    I'm sure there's some vague sense of logic in here, but Freddie, I ain't seeing it anywhere in here..

     

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  63.  
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    Jim, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 5:17pm

    Bah, this is like linking video games to some psychopath shooting up a school. He made the decision to start using drugs as a response to the way the case went. I just don't like anyone claiming causality like that to push an agenda.

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 5:26pm

    People keep claiming an '11 note sequence' as if it's a random act.
    But the Men At Work song was about Australia, and the 11 note sequence was a quote from an iconic Australian song written by another songwriter.
    MAW admitted they KNEW they were using the Kookaburra quote when they recorded it.
    This all could have been avoided with appropriate permission sought at the time the track was originally released.
    Finally, all other band members are still alive and kicking, so does this prove anything about the suicide over a copyright issue claim?

     

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  65.  
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    Joseph Kranak (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 5:29pm

    Cause and blame

    The question about cause and blame in this case is not the most important point. Clearly many factors led to his death. The important point is that copyright lawsuits have a profound negative effect, both personal and financial, on all those involved, and that a system that encourages this, over the question of just a couple notes, is not fighting for good.

     

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  66.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 5:51pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    >This is a case where Mike is trying to score points by being a ghoul. It's freaking disgusting.

    You don't even need Mike's input because on mainstream sites like Yahoo, Australians are extremely disgusted that this has happened.

    But I suppose since the courts there ruled in favour of iiNet they don't count, right?

     

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  67.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 20th, 2012 @ 5:57pm

    Re: Cause and blame

    Clearly many factors led to his death. The important point is that copyright lawsuits have a profound negative effect, both personal and financial, on all those involved, and that a system that encourages this, over the question of just a couple notes, is not fighting for good.

    On a scale of world problems causing death, copyright is probably relatively low. I'd love to expand this discussion to world issues that cause premature death and how we can address them.

     

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  68.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 6:19pm

    Re: That's a first..

    no not the singer

     

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  69.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 6:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If you are going to quote someone, you should:

    (a) get the name right,

    (b) actually quote propertly, and

    (c) stop making shit up.

     

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  70.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 20th, 2012 @ 10:48pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    " It defects from the triggering event."

    ... and you are completely certain as to the supposed triggering event?

    Exactly how long have you been in the field of psychiatry? Where do you practice?

    It could be said that some people try to sound like they just know, because it "makes them feel better about it and for some...ohhh so superior".

    You sir, are truly superior.

     

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  71.  
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    Mayside Research Institute (profile), Apr 21st, 2012 @ 2:37am

    Flute riff..?

    I have listened to both Kookaburra and Down Under and I don't hear the similarity. Don't the notes have to be in order for a claim of musical infringement?

     

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  72.  
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    Stephen Pate, Apr 21st, 2012 @ 2:58am

    Twister Sister

    What a silly leap of logic. Men at Work member turn to drugs and dies because he has to pay 5% of his earnings on one song that he probably cribbed. Money - it's all about money and his personal greed. Sometimes, you go a long way to find a non-existent causal link.

    The story could also read - court cases kill.

     

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  73.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 21st, 2012 @ 6:13am

    Re: Twister Sister

    The story could also read - court cases kill.

    That's what I'm thinking. Stress kills. Or losing money kills.

    He was upset about the copyright case. People get upset about lots of things, and some of them likely die as a result. Perhaps we need to tackle the bigger picture of stress and death. I'll bet, though, that if we ran an on-going list of people dying around the world everyday from stress-related issues, it wouldn't hold a lot of interest here.

    However, in this case, "Guy loses copyright case. Guy is upset. Guy dies. Copyright to blame?"

     

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  74.  
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    The Cantankerist, Apr 21st, 2012 @ 5:54pm

    A couple of points about this case:

    1) Greg Ham was the flautist, not the singer as some commenters have it. Colin Hay is alive and well.

    2) Yes, the judgement totally blew. We're talking about Larrikin, who bought the rights to "Kookaburra" not from the original owner but (as I recall) from the South Aust government (an action that should be impossible in itself), and then did nothing for nineteen years before suing. It should have been dismissed as the rapacious behaviour it was. (Given that "Down Under" had been out for eight or nine years at the time of their acquisition, it's not like they'd never heard the song.)

    3) Yes, it's a deliberate quote with satiric intent - early band efforts to deny that were incredibly wrongheaded and made them appear disingenuous. The clip to "Down Under" has Greg Ham playing the line while "sitting in an old gum tree" as per the original Kookaburra lyric. Arguments that attempt to deny the similarity are more than a little fanciful. Under normal and sane circumstances it would qualify as a fair-use quotation and no more would be said. BUT...

    4) ... and this is the bit that really hurts... "Kookaburra" is only four lines long. Quoting two lines of it is quoting half the song. That's what brought them undone - reproducing a legally significant percentage of the copyrighted property. Never mind that a four-line song should surely skirt the edge of a copyrightable property; never mind that everybody in Australia presumed that "Kookaburra" was as much in copyright as "Waltzing Matilda". It makes me wonder if I can write a one-line song with five notes in it and sue anyone who plays a C# for reproducing 20% of my song.

    5) However: it's worth noting that the judge saw Larrikin coming. They asked for 50% of all Down Under royalties (no, seriously, they did); he found that there was infringement (which under the letter of the law there clearly was) but ruled that Larrikin were entitled to 5% of the royalties SINCE 2002 and 5% going forward. That's still a bit of money, but nothing they couldn't have gotten on top of - those seven years weren't exactly the meatiest sales years for Down Under, it didn't even include the Olympics. Certainly there was no demand that they pay back any 1980s royalties, which was of course the big stuff.

     

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  75.  
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    The Cantankerist, Apr 21st, 2012 @ 6:01pm

    None of that does any good for poor Greg Ham, of course, but it's also worth noting that Greg's struggles with addiction were not new. No doubt he took the judgement to heart, but it didn't result in his death any more than fame "results" in infidelity etc. There's still this thing called free will.

     

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  76.  
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    Fred Something, Apr 21st, 2012 @ 7:26pm

    Bad

    Its obvious that the law suit contributed to the mans death, theres no point dodging that fact.

    Norm Lurie the man who initiated the legal proceedings against Men at work, is an oppotunistic lowlife. He was quoted as saying he felt bad the woman who wrote the song didnt make any money from it. So, he steps up and makes moeny on her behalf? I cannot express enough how much i hate Lurie and Larrikin Music. The kookaburra song was from 1934, the artist died, and the downunder song only had a few seconds of the riff. Big deal... Not worth a law suit or a mans life.

     

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  77.  
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    S, Apr 24th, 2012 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Really?!

    If guilt were a reason to die, you would be dead a thousand times over. Makes me wish the world actually worked that way.

     

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  78.  
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    mysticrose, Jun 6th, 2012 @ 5:36pm

    Re:

    I think it hurt Greg Ham more deeply because he had added the riff to the song. He must have felt responsible.

     

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  79.  
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    Aurora, Feb 5th, 2013 @ 7:23am

    Greg Ham of MAW

    ...has it been confirmed that he killed himself???
    It could have been accidental, heart stopped...
    Number if unexplained issues..
    Thx

     

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  80.  
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    Mike, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 8:54am

    Five percent

    If he committed suicide because of only five percent then he had far more serious mental health issues.

    It is a real shame because that is a really happy song that brought people a lot of joy, and to hear of his death is really sad.

     

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