"Down Under" became one of my favorite songs back in the 80s. I was a little sad to hear that the group, Men at Work, has lost a copyright infringement suit. Apparently a part of the song contained a tune from the kid song “Kookaburra Sits in an Old Gum Tree.” It’s that fluty section. Here’s the video. Listen for it:
I never made the connection although now that I’ve listened, I do hear it. Still the decision disgusts me. First of all, who knew that Kookaburra was even in copyright? Seriously, what other childhood songs that we learned are copyrighted? (Did you know that Happy Birthday to You is in copyright?) It’s ridiculous. I think that songs such as Kookaburra have entered into the public domain and ought to be free from infringement suits. Kinda like generic trademarks – asprin, thermos.
The plaintiff, Larrikin Music Publishing, is presumably going to be rewarded damages although due to statute of limitations, they’re not going to get back royalties for the entire time the song has been out. The Australian reports that Larrikin is seeking 40-60% royalties which is, to me, outrageous. First, there aren’t any damages that I can tell. Who confused the two songs? As I said, I didn’t even make a connection until it was pointed out. Second, the infringement is a small part of the song. Finally, it’s a freaking kid song whose only commercial value lies in music books in elementary schools and maybe episodes of The Wiggles.
h/t to alliewolfgal for posting the vid on youtube.