Thread: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

Results 1 to 20 of 28

  1. #1
    Ambidextrous Onanist Thinks Quiet Riot was under-rated
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Location Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
    Posts 941
    Rep Power 536871039

    Default Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    ...Waiting to collect her roy-al-tee...

    Men at Work got legally spanked recently over their lifting of a melody for the flute riff in their old hit "Down Under".

    Damages have not yet been awarded, but are expected to be on the order of half of the profits that the song ever made.

    The thing that struck me was that apparently the band never claimed that they didn't lift the melody, but argued rather that the rights-holder didn't actually own the song. They seem to claim that the author GAVE the song to the Girl Guides, and that her later sale of the song to a publisher was therefore void... (Which to me would only mean that they owe the money to the Girl Guides...)

    I think there's a lesson here about GETTING CLEARANCE if you know you are borrowing. I'd guess that someone cut a corner to save a little money back in the 80s, and that corner will now be paid for many times over.

    M
    Look for the sunlight where it's shinin'.
  2. #2
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Location Long Island, NY, USA
    Posts 9,902
    Rep Power 536871339

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    "Borrowing" a measure or 2 of someone else's song seems a bit borderline for plagiarism and IMO a lawsuit probably wouldn't even have been considered prior to the Whiter Shade of Pale verdict. I guess it depends on how important to the song the lifted passage is considered.

    Did Jeff Beck get permission for "Mary Had a Little Lamb", "What's It All About Alfie", the theme from "Beverly Hillbillies", and whatever else made it's way into "Beck's Boogie"?

    Man! You have GOT to try a hit of this RANGE SUNSHINE!

    IMTBO = In My Thoroughly Biased Opinion
    CMIIW = Correct Me If I'm Wrong
    Never underestimate the amount of contempt a failed musician has for those of us who are still trying.
    If the party's good enough, you can actually suck to a remarkable degree.

    Greedle
  3. #3
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Posts 6,786
    Rep Power 2500000000

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    The thing I'm wondering...MAW releases song in 1983...allegedly plagiarized song written in 1934...gets sued in 2008-2009.

    What's up with that? How does the idea of "willful neglect of copyright enforcement" come into play in the damages phase?

    It would seem then that perhaps the entirety of the Aussie cultural identity is off-bounds...make something that "sounds aussie", and you pay?
    "...but ma, audio engineering IS gainful employment!..."

    "...If I wuz at that club where Miles played one note I would have bounced ONE BOTTLE off his shiny fucking coconut. What? He's Phil Glass now?..." -Slipperman

    "...never attribute to magic, that which can be explained by conspiracy."
  4. #4
    Has Many Personal Intergritys Expensive Boat Anchor
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Location New York
    Posts 10,033
    Rep Power 536871342

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    I don't get the time lag, as virtually EVERYONE spotted it straight away and it was (I now see admittedly) an obvious 'reference'


    frankly if I wrote the theme to the Beverly Hillbillies, I would have taken issue with Jeff Beck incorporating it into a record as well.
    Again, it's not like it's an accident. It's a quote.

    Mary Had A Little Lamb I suspect was PD
  5. #5
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Posts 6,786
    Rep Power 2500000000

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    I wonder if the "part of the iconic cultural identity" aspect is ever in play?
    "...but ma, audio engineering IS gainful employment!..."

    "...If I wuz at that club where Miles played one note I would have bounced ONE BOTTLE off his shiny fucking coconut. What? He's Phil Glass now?..." -Slipperman

    "...never attribute to magic, that which can be explained by conspiracy."
  6. #6
    Has Many Personal Intergritys Expensive Boat Anchor
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Location New York
    Posts 10,033
    Rep Power 536871342

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    If you wrote a song about being an American and you used Yankee Doodle Dandy as the solo, is it actionable?

    I vote yes
  7. #7
    Let it Be Still My Broken Heart Short-rope candidate
    Join Date Jul 2008
    Location Mars Colony
    Posts 5,049
    Rep Power 536871156

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    But why should the little flute riff = half the profits from the song? Was that half of what made the song salable?
    Hating Nickelback is the new liking Nickelback.

    ------------

    Current status: Ignoring everybody on Facebook.
  8. #8
    Has Many Personal Intergritys Expensive Boat Anchor
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Location New York
    Posts 10,033
    Rep Power 536871342

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    you can never answer that

    the only answer is, if it's not 'important' then take it OUT

    if it's important enough for you to USE my song in yours then I'm an EQUAL partner
  9. #9
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Posts 6,786
    Rep Power 2500000000

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    I agree in principle. What I see as a quagmire, is the chance that this will start a cottage industry of publishers aquiring rights to older compositions, and then going on forensic hunting expeditions for songs that might contain similarities.

    For example, I would bet that "All You Need Is Love" has some actionable stuff in it, that some enterprising publisher could leverage a payday from....

    thoughts?
    "...but ma, audio engineering IS gainful employment!..."

    "...If I wuz at that club where Miles played one note I would have bounced ONE BOTTLE off his shiny fucking coconut. What? He's Phil Glass now?..." -Slipperman

    "...never attribute to magic, that which can be explained by conspiracy."
  10. #10
    Let it Be Still My Broken Heart Short-rope candidate
    Join Date Jul 2008
    Location Mars Colony
    Posts 5,049
    Rep Power 536871156

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    Yea, like the French government.
    Hating Nickelback is the new liking Nickelback.

    ------------

    Current status: Ignoring everybody on Facebook.
  11. #11
    Has Many Personal Intergritys Expensive Boat Anchor
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Location New York
    Posts 10,033
    Rep Power 536871342

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    I suspect EMI was smart enough to ensure an easy target like that used PD choices
  12. #12
    In a world of ones and zeros...this one's the latter. Ron Jeremy's fluffer
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Location Texas
    Posts 464
    Rep Power 536871023

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    The time lag is strange.
    If it's so obvious, why did it take nearly 30 years to figure out?

    Also, this calls into question the whole idea of "quoting" in jazz. Or in rock.

    It's a language, fellas.
  13. #13
    Has Many Personal Intergritys Expensive Boat Anchor
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Location New York
    Posts 10,033
    Rep Power 536871342

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    It's a language when you "quote" someone else

    it's theft when they "quote" you
  14. #14
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Location ██████████
    Posts 6,404
    Rep Power 402653927

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    the thing is, in australia that song is SO WELL KNOWN that nobody would ever think of OWNERSHIP of it... it's a people's song, sort of. may as well be public domain.

    and so i and i'm sure quite a few others think that this is a disgusting act of money grubbing. why now? why not 26 years earlier?
    Gearwire.com Drum Mixing Tutorial: The best way of course is an oscilloscope... but, we don't have that, we don't have that here, so we have to use our ears...
  15. #15
    Roadside Outcast Dept. Always picked last for sports
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Location On location...
    Posts 4,905
    Rep Power 536871171

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    Much like the old adage of punters leaving concerts not humming or whistling the colour green from the lightshow...

    As important a part of the song the flute line is - which the "offending" parts are the second and fourth phrases - the punters at large sporting events, or in the pub, or at the concert or wherever don't sing/hum/whistle the flute part.

    They sing the chorus...'cos it's got y'know...words.

    That's the hook.

    If they are going to spank them for 60% of the profits for the flute line, imagine how big the payout would be if Men At Work had lifted the chorus?

    The proportions seem a bit off to me.

    Cheers,
    Tim
    Don't forget, we are all engaged in a battle to the death against mediocrity.

    The best radio mic system that money can buy is ALMOST as good as a $20 cable.

    One of the most important things to remember about sound is:
    'Sucks' is always conducted better than 'Rules'. - Pimp-X wisdom


    Never underestimate the power of stupid - Blackie C (RIP)

    Ego and talent seldom go hand in hand... Talent and humble on the other hand... - Zoesch

    Weedy ignores this simple bit of glaring obviousness because he is an "ELECTRIC BASS GUITARIST"(coughcough)
    and views the kick drum as a "bass riff rhythmic pattern suggestion generator" - Slipperman
  16. #16
    Let it Be Still My Broken Heart Short-rope candidate
    Join Date Jul 2008
    Location Mars Colony
    Posts 5,049
    Rep Power 536871156

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...


    If they are going to spank them for 60% of the profits for the flute line, imagine how big the payout would be if Men At Work had lifted the chorus?
    100%
    Hating Nickelback is the new liking Nickelback.

    ------------

    Current status: Ignoring everybody on Facebook.
  17. #17
    Has Many Personal Intergritys Expensive Boat Anchor
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Location New York
    Posts 10,033
    Rep Power 536871342

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    well then, take the 'unimportant' 'no one hums it' STOLEN line OUT
  18. #18
    Roadside Outcast Dept. Always picked last for sports
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Location On location...
    Posts 4,905
    Rep Power 536871171

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    well then, take the 'unimportant' 'no one hums it' STOLEN line OUT
    Two things:

    1. I didn't say it was unimportant. I said it wasn't the bit that the punters sing along with.

    2. You can't take it out...the record has been made. By all means say that it shouldn't have been put in, but that horse bolted about 30 years ago.

    Cheers,
    Tim
    Don't forget, we are all engaged in a battle to the death against mediocrity.

    The best radio mic system that money can buy is ALMOST as good as a $20 cable.

    One of the most important things to remember about sound is:
    'Sucks' is always conducted better than 'Rules'. - Pimp-X wisdom


    Never underestimate the power of stupid - Blackie C (RIP)

    Ego and talent seldom go hand in hand... Talent and humble on the other hand... - Zoesch

    Weedy ignores this simple bit of glaring obviousness because he is an "ELECTRIC BASS GUITARIST"(coughcough)
    and views the kick drum as a "bass riff rhythmic pattern suggestion generator" - Slipperman
  19. #19
    Has Many Personal Intergritys Expensive Boat Anchor
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Location New York
    Posts 10,033
    Rep Power 536871342

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    yes, but the point is we've ALL been there I suspect where someone has the bright idea to quote or reference some other record or song... and you HAVE to ask yourself if it's legal and if it's worth what it's going to cost


    they made a determination and WERE aware of the lift

    they now pay the consequences

    I don't agree that you can ever say what's important even to 'the punters'
  20. #20
    Martini Drinker Van Morrison's enunciation coach
    Join Date Nov 2006
    Posts 3,217
    Rep Power 2500000000

    Default Re: Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree...

    Totally with Weedy here.
    If it's not important why is it there ?
    The issue of claiming it this late smells bad, especially since the author has died and won't see any benefit in the case. But nevertheless, imagine if the quote is your song. Doesn't matter how popular it is, on the contrary.

    I often wonder how it works for stuff like the White Stripes riff off "Seven nation army" which has become an anthem at enormo football games, concerts and huge festivals in Europe. It's a spontaneous crowd thing, and I'm guessing Jack doesn't get a part of the action even when it's a major event televised across continents such as the football world cup.
    But if someone "quotes" it in a song in 20 years, why shouldn't Jack get compensation ?
    "Happy Birthday to you" is not public domain and apparently continues to make Warner-Chappell an annual bundle of 2 million $.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts