Thursday, August 6, 2009

Men at Work loses first stage of copyright lawsuit; Boston Globe, 7/30/09

Kristen Gelineau via Boston Globe; Men at Work loses first stage of copyright lawsuit:

"A music publisher that has accused Australian band Men at Work of stealing the melody to their 1980s smash hit "Down Under" from a campfire song won the first stage of its lawsuit on Thursday seeking royalties from the Aussie anthem.

A federal judge ruled that publisher Larrikin Music owns the copyright to the tune of "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree" -- a Girl Guide favorite from New Zealand to Canada. The judge's ruling clears the way for a further hearing about whether Men at Work is guilty of copyright infringement.

Larrikin claims the distinctive flute riff in "Down Under" was copied from the refrain of "Kookaburra," a song about the native Australian bird written in 1934 by a teacher named Marion Sinclair for a Girl Guides competition. Sinclair died in 1988.

Lawyers for Men at Work's recording companies -- Sony BMG Music Entertainment and EMI Songs Australia -- reject that claim."

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