Kookaburra Sits On A Big Pile Of Money

Another story update to pass along, this time from the music department.

Carinwrotelast summer about a suit filed against the band Men at Work by publishing company Larrikin Music claiming that the band’s song Down Under rips off a piece of the campfire song Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.

The ruling in the case came back late last week and somehow,Men at Work lostand now owe a yet to be determined amount of royalties.

Colin Hay, Men At Work’s lead singer, has admitted that Down Under does include two bars referenced from Kookaburra. However, it wasn’t in the original version he and Ron Strykert composed and performed starting in 1978, but was added later, during live shows and the subsequent 1982 album recording, by band member Greg Ham.

“[Down Under] was, and continues to be, played literally millions of times all over the world, and it is no surprise that in over 20 years, no one noticed the reference to Kookaburra. There are reasons for this. It was inadvertent, naive, unconscious, and by the time Men At Work recorded the song, it had become unrecognizable,” Hay said in a statement.

“When I co-wrote Down Under back in 1978, I appropriated nothing from anyone else’s song. There was no Men At Work, there was no flute, yet the song existed. That’s the truth of it.”

Was it even 2 bars? It sounds like less than that to me, maybe at most 3 notes, certainly not enough to cost anybody potentially millions of dollars. Much more blatant rip-offs than this go completely unnoticed all the time, Down Under is far from being the worst offender. Listen to a day of top 40 radio and see if you can tell 1 song from another, then come back and tell me I’m wrong. what a ridiculous decision this is. It’s right up there with saying that a song with hand claps in it violates the copyright of If You’re Happy and You Know It.

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