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AU Band Men At Work Owes Royalties On 'Kookaburra'

kdawson posted more than 3 years ago | from the that's-our-culture-they're-locking-up dept.

Music 371

neonsignal writes "Iconic Australian band Men at Work have been ordered to pay royalties for an instrumental riff in their song 'Down Under.' The notes were sampled from a well-known children's song 'Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree,' written in 1934 for a Girl Guide's Jamboree. The Justice found the claims of the copyright owner Larrikin to be excessive, but ordered the payment of royalties and a percentage of future profits. Let's hope the primary schools are up to date with their ARIA license fees!"

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371 comments

1934 (5, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822334)

Fuck, is the guy who wrote this even still alive?

Oh right, copyright law is written for zombies.

Re:1934 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822350)

Gotta pay for brains somehow. There aren't enough new politicians recently, so scarcity is driving up the price.

Re:1934 (5, Informative)

norpy (1277318) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822360)

The person who wrote it wrote it as part of a competition for the girl scouts. She is long dead and the scouts sold the rights long ago.

Owned by Warner Music Group now though (5, Insightful)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822906)

Strange the Larrikin Wikimedia page [wikimedia.org] does not mention it, but it is now a Warner Music Group [wikimedia.org] holding (bought by Festival Records, swallowed by Warner Music Australasia).

The *IAA's successfully bought off the Aussie politicians [google.com] in full public view, it is only natural that they get to recuperate that "investment" in Aussie law changes. Bad thing for Australia is: The carrot they offered in return has turned out to be a dud [wikimedia.org] - those silly Aussie politicians sold out for little more than shiny trinkets of no value.

Re:1934 (3, Informative)

trentfoley (226635) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822372)

According to the bbc article:

Larrikin Music, which is owned by London's Music Sales Group, bought the rights to the classic folk song in 1990, following Sinclair's death in 1988.

Re:1934 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822426)

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Re:1934 (5, Funny)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822432)

Someone made a point that I think made sense......if we're going to have copyright, we ought to not make it based on the life of the creator.....otherwise it will be motivation to kill artists. Make it 15 years from the time it was created or something.

Re:1934 (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822734)

Unfortunately "artists" provide their own reasons for us to want them dead.. often: nagging about copyright.

Re:1934 (5, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822760)

Someone made a point that I think made sense......if we're going to have copyright, we ought to not make it based on the life of the creator.....otherwise it will be motivation to kill artists. Make it 15 years from the time it was created or something.

I know this is modded funny, but seriously say you are write a song that sounds like something else [vwh.net] and the judge rules that you might have subconsciously copied it. You have a potential bill for millions that will go away if this artist dies....

Re:1934 (3, Interesting)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822498)

Unfortunately no, she's not, or this probably wouldn't have happened as she would likely not have sued. She was however alive in 1981 when they lifted the notes.

Realistically though, this hasn't exactly been a win for either party. The judge believes they plagiarized the notes(which is fairly obvious when you listen to both works), but he's only ordered them to pay 5% of future profits and royalties back to 2002. While this song is still played, one would presume the vast majority of the revenue it has or ever will generate was generated prior to that date.

This was always a bit of a funny case since their lead singer is a minister in the current government(he's not actually named in the suit presumably he didn't have righting credits so he's got no financial interest).

Re:1934 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822902)

This was always a bit of a funny case since their lead singer is a minister in the current government(he's not actually named in the suit presumably he didn't have righting credits so he's got no financial interest).

I presume you are referring to the Environment Minister Peter Garrett? He was in Midnight Oil, not Men at Work.

Page not found on link? Here's the bbcnews page (2, Informative)

trentfoley (226635) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822354)

bbcnews.com article [bbc.co.uk] with, I guess, the same story - can't tell because original link gives a server generated "Sorry, Page not Found" error

link (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822364)

Somewhat bizarrely... (5, Informative)

williamhb (758070) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822638)

... the whole court case only happened as a result of a TV panel game, Spicks and Specks (Australian version of Never Mind The Buzzcocks). In how many years of every employee of that Australian music company presumably hearing Down Under played how many hundreds of times, nobody noticed until it came up as a curious fact on the telly...

http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/music/quiz-show-sparks-aussie-anthems-battle/story-e6frfn09-1111117725552 [news.com.au]

Re:link (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822936)

/. editors truly have shit for brains. GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!

Reminds me of... (5, Interesting)

Retron (577778) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822368)

Reminds me a bit of Bittersweet Symbphony, the Verve song that was deemed to have ripped off an obscure version of The Last Time by the Stones.
I guess a lot of that goes on, whether intentional or not.

Nine billion names of God (5, Insightful)

Yergle143 (848772) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822460)

Why don't all you "Pirates" come together and write a computer program to generate all possible melodies for the 32 bar AABA, form. Then publish the whole lot under the creative commons license or whatever, call western music complete, and then download in peace.

Also these lawsuits are always bunk. Noone ever sues over the harmony do they?

Re:Nine billion names of God (4, Interesting)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822502)

Well, atleast Swedish copyright law states explicitly that machine generated things can't be copyrighted because they're not creative.

Re:Nine billion names of God (2, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822602)

Well, atleast Swedish copyright law states explicitly that machine generated things can't be copyrighted because they're not creative.

But what about the mutterings of muppet chefs?

Like the movie Avatar (3, Interesting)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822688)

> Swedish copyright law states explicitly that machine generated things can't be copyrighted because they're not creative

I, for one, have never come across a piece of music which was generated by a machine without any intervention of human creative force.

By strict definition, either nothing comes under that classification, or most modern 3-D animated movies do come under that classification.

Yes, I know, the legal system doesn't work that way. Still, it seems to be a stupid law as you state it.

Re:Like the movie Avatar (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822918)

It's not a terribly difficult law to interpret, the Shrek movies are copyrightable, the automatically generated database of every possible song combination is not. That subsection of copyright law is pretty much specifically written to prevent that exact thing.

In general terms the law is interpreted such as that the output of your algorithm can only be counted as a creative work if the input of your algorithm was a creative work.

Re:Nine billion names of God (2, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822954)

Well, atleast Swedish copyright law states explicitly that machine generated things can't be copyrighted because they're not creative.

Step 1. Machine generate every possibly melody
Step 2. Register the copyrights in a country which is not Sweden and is a signatory to one or more multi-lateral copyright treaties [wikipedia.org]
Step 3. Apply for the international copyrights
Step 4. ????
Step 5. Call western music complete

Re:Nine billion names of God (5, Insightful)

madpansy (1410973) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822562)

Nice try RIAA. You're telling gullible nerds to generate all possible melodies and publish them, only to come in and sue them for the melodies which are already copyrighted.

Re:Nine billion names of God (2, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822860)

There's no need.

By the time you discount all the combinations which sound terrible, you'll have substantially fewer permutations to create. Now, go to any major record company's corporate website and dig out the details for how many songs they claim to hold the copyright to.

It's more-or-less mathematically impossible to write a song today which doesn't have at least a couple of bars which sound like something else. 99 times out of 100, this is a non-issue (either because your song winds up sounding like something that nobody has either heard of or cares about, or because it sounds so obviously like something so fantastically well-known that nobody for one minute - not even the bottom-feeders at the RIAA - believes you'd have been stupid enough to rip it off)

The other 1 time out of 100, you wind up with something like this happening.

Re:Reminds me of... (3, Informative)

beowulfcluster (603942) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822486)

The Verve sampled that obscure version of the track and licenced the use of it so that wasn't unintentional. I think the problem was the Stones representatives thought they ended up using too much of the sample in the song. They realized this only after the song became a success, of course.

Re:Reminds me of... (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822792)

A better example would be Vanilla Ice and Queen. If you're too young, move on quickly.

Re:Reminds me of... (3, Interesting)

albyrne5 (893494) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822974)

I'd always felt that the orchestral string riff in Bittersweet Symphony was a rip-off of Grieg's "In the halls of the Mountain King", but I could never get anyone else to hear the similarity. For me it's very very similar. Strange how music works in the brain!

Re:Reminds me of... (1)

PaladinAlpha (645879) | more than 3 years ago | (#32823050)

Wow. I never thought in a thousand years I'd find someone who agreed with me on this (Bittersweet Symphony = ItHot Mtn King). Truly amazing. Rock on, fellow great mind!

is the guy who wrote this even still alive? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822398)

The original author is dead a few years now according the the linked article.

Re:is the guy who wrote this even still alive? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822822)

Are you complaining that the copyright is too long or saying his family shouldn't be collecting after death?

Re:is the guy who wrote this even still alive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822880)

His family's not collecting anyway; some corporation bought the rights a couple years after he died. Not that it should matter whether the rights are owned by a widow and orphans or "big music" -- equality before the law and all -- just stating the facts.

The Lyrics (5, Informative)

Anthony (4077) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822400)

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry merry king of the bush is he
Laugh kookaburra laugh kookaburra
Gay you life must be.

Sung to the flute riff on "Land Down Under"

Well, in truth..... (5, Funny)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822406)

.....Men at Work do come from a land down under, where women glow and lawyers plunder.

Re:Well, in truth..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822884)

This'll teach Colin Hay for deciding to start his own label.

Even If They Lose the Appeal... (5, Interesting)

akahige (622549) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822412)

...This has got to be seen as a win for the band. They have to pay royalties back to 2002... which is >20 years since the song was released and became a monster hit. Surely its earnings potential has slacked off some since then. Imagine how bad it would be if they had to come up with royalties back to its heyday...

Re:Even If They Lose the Appeal... (4, Informative)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822548)

Even with only 5% royalties and six years, that's apparently still a six-figure sum [theaustralian.com.au].

Wouldn't have guessed they were still averaging $333K+ a year in royalties. I can see why these aging rockers tend to fight for copyright extensions.

Re:Even If They Lose the Appeal... (4, Informative)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822758)

The copyright holder was asking for 60% of royalties, and the judge decided that was a ridiculous amount, so reduced to 5%. Still is a bit much, but it could have been quite a lot worse.

Precedent... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822436)

They wrote the song in 1981, and reissued it in 1982, well before the creator's death and subsquent sale of the song to Larrikin. This may set a very bad precedent, since new owners won't always honour agreements predating their ownership.

BROKEN LINK (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822450)

It should be:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/07/06/2945781.htm

Plus, this news did the rounds in Australia months ago - don't know why ABC is reporting it just now.

Re:BROKEN LINK (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822468)

Ah, replying to my own comment 'n' all...

The case was decided July 2009 (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/07/30/2640727.htm), they've only just determined compensation now.

Re:BROKEN LINK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822476)

The court case was decided a few months ago but did not determine damages.

Now damages have been decided and got reported.

Give us break. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822496)

Fer chis sakes, the guy who brings us the Aussie news via kayak just got here!

Re:BROKEN LINK (2, Funny)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822686)

After it made the rounds, it made the squares.

--

A mullet is what pattern baldness does to an afro.

Schools? + Broken link (1)

grim-one (1312413) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822478)

"Let's hope the primary schools are up to date with their ARIA license fees!" How did schools come into this? It's a band making royalties and profit from a musical arrangement written by someone else, possibly even sampled directly from a recording (according to the summary). Oh, and the article link appears broken

Re:Schools? + Broken link (1)

ashridah (72567) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822508)

Because when i was growing up, the tune 'kookaburra sits in an old gum tree' was a staple of my primary school activities. And i'm willing to bet we were singing it without a license. And we all know how brain-dead the recording industries are (Australia's is just as bad, if not worse, than the US's, in some respects.)

Re:Schools? + Broken link (1)

grim-one (1312413) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822588)

Singing it at a school performance may fall under fair use - but my point was you and the school would be making neither profit nor royalties from these performances. Applying the Justice's decision here would not be useful as there's nothing to take a share of.

Re:Schools? + Broken link (1)

HJED (1304957) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822628)

Schools (or at least public schools, I'm not sure) in Australia are allowed to perform and photocopy music providing they have an original copy.

Re:Schools? + Broken link (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822756)

Apparently the Girl Guides owned the rights to the song for 26 years, up until 1968, at which point they were sold or transfered. So you'd have to be more specific about what year you sung the song for slashdot to really know how much you owe these guys.

Re:Schools? + Broken link (2, Informative)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822784)

Note that the "Happy Birthday" song is also under copyright, and the owners in the last decade or so have gotten quite insistent about being paid for it. Which is why you don't hear that song sung much anymore. Even those cheezy theme restaurants that try to embarrass you on your birthday since their own birthday songs instead. I'm no longer in kindergarten (for a few years now) but I suspect they don't sing it much in schools anymore either.

Perversion of the law's intent (5, Insightful)

bteed (1832400) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822482)

Copyright law was originally intended to contribute to the arts by incentivizing creation with a temporary monopoly for the creator. Hands up whoever thinks Ms Sinclair wouldn't have written this song if she knew some company 75 years later weren't able to get a cut of something they had absolutely no part in creating.

Re:Perversion of the law's intent (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822732)

Copyright law was originally intended to contribute to the arts by incentivizing creation with a temporary monopoly for the creator. Hands up whoever thinks Ms Sinclair wouldn't have written this song if she knew some company 75 years later weren't able to get a cut of something they had absolutely no part in creating.

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Re:Perversion of the law's intent (3, Insightful)

TouchAndGo (1799300) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822800)

We can primarily thank Disney for that

Re:Perversion of the law's intent (1)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822888)

I think we need to separate Disney the creator and Disney the business corporation...

Re:Perversion of the law's intent (2, Insightful)

gilroy (155262) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822962)

Actually, I've never seen anything justifying such a separation. Old Walt could be pretty ruthless, too.

Re:Perversion of the law's intent (3, Insightful)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 3 years ago | (#32823026)

Well it's not that easy, I think. Someone like Christopher Reuel Tolkien (age 85) is still publishing - at that age you are more likely to be interested in earning money for your family or descendents rather than yourself. That in turn might only be possible if you are able to sell or transfer the rights to the work in some way. Still - 25 years after creation should be plenty of time to profit from the work and be a reasonable not to interfere with it becoming part of our culture and derivative works to be created. Of course Men At Work would then no longer earn any royalties on the song either.

Shirley, it. must. be. a. mistake. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822500)

Jump down the shelters to get away
The boys are cockin' up their guns
Tell us general, is it party time?
If it is can we all come

Don't think that we don't know
Don't think that we're not trying
Don't think we move too slow
It's no use after crying
Saying

It's a mistake, it's a mistake
It's a mistake, it's a mistake

After the laughter as died away
And all the boys have had their fun
No surface noise now, not much to say
They've got the bad guys on the run

Don't try to say you're sorry
Don't say he drew his gun
They've gone and grabbed old Ronnie
He's not the only one saying

It's a mistake, it's a mistake
It's a mistake, it's a mistake

Tell us commander, what do you think?
'Cos we know that you love all that power
Is it on then, are we on the brink?
We wish you'd all throw in the towel

We'll not fade out too soon
Not in this finest hour
Whistle your favourite tune
We'll send a card and flower
Saying

It's a mistake, it's a mistake
It's a mistake, it's a mistake

They should have GPLed it. Creative Commonsed it. They should have Free-BSDed it. They should have Apachied it. That should have Microsoft Open Source Licensed it. They should have not done that.

Re:Shirley, it. must. be. a. mistake. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822552)

Only goes to show, stupid people really are stupid all the time. What in the world has any of that got to do with any of this? What is this doing on /. anyway is beside the point. Oh, right, copyright, and how it's evil UNLESS it's the GPL, then it's from God (who goes by the initials RMS in some circles).

Too many notes! (1)

xixax (44677) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822512)

I particularly like this report [theaustralian.com.au] about the judgement where "the flute riff made up only 5.8 per cent" of the song. Five point eight percent? You have got to be kidding me!

It speaks volumes when the legal system must resort to distillation and quantification of art to such spurious accuracy. It reeks of the text book explainging the linear programming of poetry that gets ripped up in Dead Poets Society or the King of Austria as portrayed in Amadeus, "And there are simply too many notes, that's all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect!".

Xix.

Re:Too many notes! (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822662)

That wasn't the Emperor, it was one of his ministers. Franz Joseph told Mozart to put the music back. Not that this invalidates your point, mind you, but it's a nit that needed picking.

Re:Too many notes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822814)

that's only time-based percentage.

consider the percentage of the audible spectrum taken by the flute instrument while it is playing (over all the other instruments after all) and you'll have 5% of that again. music is hard to measure... the closer you look the less there is.

Perhaps copyright needs to be more like trademarks (4, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822534)

Trademarks can be lost if they become common generic terms in the language. It happened with Aspirin, Escalator, Zipper, Thermos, and Yo-yo. It almost happened to Kleenex and Xerox, and could happen to Google ("why don't you google it?").

Perhaps copyright needs a similar exception. If your song/phrase/work becomes an iconic symbol of something else (in this case, Australia), then clearly the benefit to society of not having it protected by copyright outweighs the author's right to profit off it. So it should lose its copyright.

Re:Perhaps copyright needs to be more like tradema (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822610)

no, the trademark on aspirin was taken as spoils of war (bayer AG is a german company)

Re:Perhaps copyright needs to be more like tradema (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822924)

It happened with Aspirin, Escalator, Zipper, Thermos, and Yo-yo. It almost happened to Kleenex and Xerox, and could happen to Google ("why don't you google it?").

Frisbee. And it did happen with Jeep, but Chrysler staged the only recovery I've ever seen. When they bought Jeep, it was in general use, then they sued their way out of it. Probably one or more of Frigidaire, dispose-all, Rocky's (Rocky Mountain Jeans) and many many more (Coke in the south), but Jeep is the only one that annoys me. It was in general use. And Chrysler sued their way back to ownership. Well, maybe photoshop, as Adobe are asses about it when you photoshop something.

The song (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822594)

In case anyone is curious, here is the offending song [youtube.com]. The part that I believe caught them starts at 1:55. Hard to know if they had the original song in mind when they wrote it or not.

Re:The song (1)

saiha (665337) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822660)

I would bet that the "creator" got part of his tune from previous songs he heard, its just that we don't have sufficient records from that time.

Re:The song (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822704)

I think they knew what they were doing. I mean, look at the music video for Land Down Under. At the point where the riff does the part equivalent to 'Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree...', the flautist is, in fact, sitting in a gum tree.

Re:The song (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822876)

Based on what I've heard from the song "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree" on YouTube videos, the point of contention is that the pan flute riff in "Down Under" is nearly identical to the the note phrasing used in the former. I found a snipped from an Australian news show that attempts to highlight this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCyB2l5wqLE&feature=related

Yes, you have to stretch your imagination a bit to achieve the comparison but, if you reduce it down to simple notes you get

G-G-G-G-G-H--G-G-F--D--F--D--

I would have thought that a fair use argument would have prevailed here as, in Men at Work's track, the use of the similar eleven note riff only occurs a few times.

The sticking point seems to be that the childrens song is so short in duration that it was likely argued that the use fell foul of the "amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole" test

Whether Colin Hay, Greg Ham et al were subliminally influenced by the children's song, or whether they intentionally used the riff is something only they will know.

What strikes me as odd is that Marion Sinclair was alive when Men at Work released the song and didn't object at the time.

What also strikes me as very odd is that, if Marion did indeed sell the rights to her composition to Larrikin before her death in 1988... why on earth did Larrikin take twenty-one years to file suit??

remember the reason for copyright (3, Insightful)

saiha (665337) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822654)

Clearly this is encouraging more works to be created.

To be honest I would love to see at least one example of an author who created a culturally significant work pre-1950 who has created another meaningful work in the last 10 years.

Re:remember the reason for copyright (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822868)

Eh, 1958 isn't QUITE far enough back, but Keiko Abe is still putting out culturally significant works today.

http://www.keiko-abe.com/englishindex.html
http://www.keiko-abe.com/english/sakuhin/sakuhin.html

Re:remember the reason for copyright (0)

tokul (682258) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822998)

To be honest I would love to see at least one example of an author who created a culturally significant work pre-1950 who has created another meaningful work in the last 10 years.

This sets very strict restriction on time. Such person must stay alive for at least 65 years. 75 years old or more in saner personal activity estimates. more than 50 years of public activity. highly unlikely to happen.

Asimov. "I, Robot", 1950 and "Forward the Foundation", 1993. at least 42 years of activity. stopped by heart and kidney failure.
Einstein. Started in 1901, ended in 1950-1955. Stopped by abdominal aortic aneurysm. High AAA risk factor for 65-75 year olds.

Probability of this occurring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822750)

What I'd like to know is: what are the odds of this happening by sheer chance? Surely there can't be that many combinations of just a few musical notes?

And wouldn't the Birthday Paradox apply here? You can't compare the number of combinations of musical notes to the number of songs that have ever been written. Instead, you need to compare the number of combinations of musical notes to the number of possible pairs of songs.

This just strikes me as incredibly likely to happen on probability alone. But if anyone's willing to do the math...

Re:Probability of this occurring? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822862)

Given both are Australian and the artist might have been exposed to the tune? Its also the 1980's so no world wide exposure, Australia was inward looking. Growing up maybe as part of the "Girl Guide's Jamboree" mb many people enjoyed it and it seeped into the national subconscious in various forms over the years?

Re:Probability of this occurring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32822942)

What I'd like to know is: what are the odds of this happening by sheer chance? Surely there can't be that many combinations of just a few musical notes?

And wouldn't the Birthday Paradox apply here? You can't compare the number of combinations of musical notes to the number of songs that have ever been written. Instead, you need to compare the number of combinations of musical notes to the number of possible pairs of songs.

This just strikes me as incredibly likely to happen on probability alone. But if anyone's willing to do the math...

That song has been a staple of primary school life in Australia since before I was born and would certainly have been familiar to the Down Under songwriter. Whether he would have consciously made the connection between his song and Kookaburra is another question.

Re:Probability of this occurring? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32823062)

Fair point, but I still would like to know a rough probability. I don't mean we should calculate the probability of this occurring for these two particular songs (which would be very small), but the probability of two well-known songs having a common string of notes. If there are, say, a million songs out there, then there's (1000000 choose 2) possible pairs of songs, which is a huge number...

This is not the wrong you are looking for. (4, Interesting)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822858)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kookaburra_Sits_in_the_Old_Gum_Tree [wikipedia.org]

"Marion Sinclair died in 1988"
"In June 2009, Larrikin Music sued the band Men At Work for copyright infringement, alleging that part of the flute riff of the band's 1981 single "Down Under" was copied from "Kookaburra"."

The problem is not with copyrights lasting more than the creator, since this was infringed withing the creator's lifespan. The question is why is this brought up only now. Isn't there supposed to be something about having to defend your copyrights or some such?

All I remember is (2, Funny)

Centurix (249778) | more than 3 years ago | (#32822896)

Kookaburra sits on electric wire,
jumping up and down with his pants on fire.

Laugh Kookaburra,
laugh Kookaburra
how hot your pants must be.

Iconic artist? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32823094)

What the fuck? Iconic artist? I never heard of this dumbass aussie shit. Get the fuck out of my internets, bitch, this is completely irrelevant and useless to everyone.
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