I don't usually comment on current affairs or political matters or news stories, but since this one loosely relates to my career as a writer (plus it baffles me and made me really angry) I decided I did want to put my two cents worth in.
A few days ago, the band Men at Work lost the copyright infringement case brought against them for their international hit and unofficial Aussie anthem, Down Under, because apparently the flute riff in their song ripped off the old Australian folk/children's song, Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree. See article here.
As an Aussie kid, of course I know the tune to the Kookaburra song, and while I can see the close similarities, I cannot believe a judge ruled in favour that it was in breach of copyright. This is likely going to have far reaching consequences as a barrage of other cases are brought to court for songs which sound similar to other songs.
As for the person responsible for bringing this case about, Norm Lurie, all I can say is he is totally un-Australian and definitely a greedy person, more than likely only out for money. And I hope he reads this. In fact, I might even email and tell him so. The rights for the Kookaburra song were brought by the company he is managing director for - Larrikin Music - almost ten years after Down Under was released. So what right does he or his company really have to it?
Lurie is quoted as saying "if you believe in something, then you've got to fight for it."
Fight for what? For dragging an iconic Australian band and song through court? To get the award for biggest douche of the decade? To make sure you've got a few extra million dollars (which rightfully shouldn't be yours) floating around just in case you want to buy a Porsche?
Adding to the obvious money-grubbing by Lurie's company is the fact that the original composer, a Miss Marion Sinclair, who wrote the song 75 years ago, never claimed any similarities before her death in 1988. If anyone deserved to question it, it should have been her. But obviously she wasn't a soulless, greedy, opportunistic shark.
No matter what defense Lurie and his company come up with for this action, you cannot tell me when it really comes down to it, money was the motivating factor. If there had been no money involved, would they have bothered fighting it in court for two years? I think not.
I only hope Men at Work appeal the ruling and win the second round, because this case is ridiculous.
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