Odd Case

Jay Links a very strange story here

A judge has ordered Men At Work to hand over royalties from the 1983 hit single Down Under after earlier ruling they had plagiarised a children’s song….Larrikin Music, which owns the copyright to Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, had sought 60% of royalties.

The company argued successfully that Down Under’s flute riff was stolen from Marion Sinclair’s original song.

Click on Quote to go to the site that has an embedded player. Ok, I kinda see where they get it, but since when does a very basic musical progression mean theft. This comedy routine comes to mind:

Hell Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” and Ah-Ha’s “Take On Me” start with the same Arpeggio, and frankly I always wait with baited breath when I hear one of the two common songs on to see which one I’m currently listening to. But its a damn arpeggio the damn things practically occur out of the Ether in Nature!

We’re not talking about the fairly obvious plagiarism that came with the “I want a New Drug”/”Ghostbusters Theme” lawsuit.

I wonder if the Aussies are going to go after my favorite musician because he borrowed the chorus to one of their famous songs and slapped it on one of his own.

(BTW kinda neat how context changes the meaning of the same lyrics from the origonal Also “Waltzing Mathilda” is considered the unofficial National Anthem of Australia…how cool is that to say that about a song which is essentially about sticking it to the Man. Then again, I guess the same could be said about OUR National Anthem.)

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0 Responses to Odd Case

  1. docstrange says:

    “since when does a very basic musical progression mean theft”

    Ooooh! I’ll play!

    What is George Harrison and 1971?

    • Weerd Beard says:

      Wow, that’s LAME!!! Wasn’t familiar with either song, but youtube hooked me up. Again I see the similarity in the chord progression, but man, if such a case is considered legitimate, then most of the 3-chord rock groups are all plagiarists!

      Thanks for the link….BTW what’s with that website background! OWWW my EYES!!!

      • docstrange says:

        Yep, a major (pardon the pun) precedent.

        That awful background image is unhelpfully called “wall” by that website. To read without the pain of gray/white background noise (in Firefox) View->Page Style->No Style.

  2. Thomas says:

    Every melody that isn’t horribly atonal/dissonant, and chord progrssions–same, HAVE BEEN PLAYED BY SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE. LAME court decision. Most of the atonal world has been covered, too. And we only have A few centuries of recorded music, including sheet music, compared to how long humans have been alive.

    I’m still of the mind that the RIAA screwing their business model by digitizing things was GOOD FOR MUSIC because it makes musicians actually have to go out and PLAY MUSIC to earn money again. Music isn’t supposed to be “product”. Not in my ethos.

    • Weerd Beard says:

      Same can be said about stories, just about every plot element has been done before and then copied millions of times over, its really hard to put anything to page without SOMEBODY saying its been done before.

      Personally I don’t care so long as its not blatant plagiarism.

      • Thomas says:

        In the old days, musicians, songsters, playwrights, and story tellers made their living by DOING. Just like painters made money by painting things. They didn’t expect to live off of royalties. That came from publishing houses, originally regarding writings. But if you write one book and don’t write anymore, are you still a writer just because you get checks in the mail because you wrote once, or are you just profiteering off of creating a product that worked?

        Sure isn’t artistic, and before I got away from the commercial music industry I saw all kindsa lame ugly corporate crap.
        Ninety times out of a hunnerd, the record companies are worried about their profits and the artists don’t get anything other than advance money. I’ve watched bands two friends were in that got signed and then the companies spent a bunch of money on them, making videos and promoting them, and the albums didn’t sell well enough, and all of their “royalty” checks are still going to pay back the record companies for promoting them. After national tours they ended up poorer than when they were doing club gigs around their local AOs.

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