Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Men at Work flautist has heard the thunder; Sydney Morning Herald, 7/7/10

Patrick Donovan, Sydney Morning Herald; Men at Work flautist has heard the thunder:

"THE man at the centre of Men at Work's copyright dispute is shattered that the famous song and his reputation have been tarnished.

''It has destroyed so much of my song,'' flute player Greg Ham said.

His refrain in Down Under was found to have reproduced a ''substantial part'' of the Guides' campfire anthem Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.

''It will be the way the song is remembered and I hate that,'' he said. ''I'm terribly disappointed that that's the way I'm going to be remembered - for copying something.''

Justice Peter Jacobsen yesterday ordered the song's composers, Colin Hay and Ron Strykert, and its publisher EMI to pay publisher Larrikin Music 5 per cent of Down Under's future profits, as well as royalties dating back to 2002.

Larrikin Music holds the copyright for the original Kookaburra melody, which was written more than 75 years ago by Toorak teacher Marion Sinclair.

The ruling is for substantially less than the 50 per cent royalty cut sought by Larrikin.

Mr Ham, who receives a small percentage of the song's royalties, said the decision ''could have been worse''.

''If it had been backdated to the '80s that would have been wrist slashing stuff,'' he said.

''I'll never see another cent out of that song again. We'll face massive legal costs.

''At the end of the day, I'll end up selling my house.''

He said he was still ''flabbergasted'' by the ruling of plagiarism.

''No one detected it - I didn't detect it and I played the f---ing thing.''

''I was looking for something that sounded Australiana - that's what came out - it was never Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.

''Music's always been about referring to what's already in our culture.''

He attacked the case as a ''massive waste of money and energy'' and said publishers would now be less likely to take on young songwriters.

''This whole copyright issue needs to be dealt with.

''Musicians are unaware of their rights, and they need to be able to cover themselves.''"


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