Aussie Men at Work get a helping hand from Girl Guides!

The Men At Work hit “Down Under is being sued by Music publishing company Larrikin which owns the rights to the “Kookaburra” song, claiming tha the melody that accompanies the line “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree” is reproduced in “Down Under.”


The problem is that the lawyers for “Down Under” songwriters, Colin Hay and Ron Strykert, and music giants, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Sony DADC Australia, EMI Songs Australia and EMI Music Publishing are claiming that Larrikin doesn’t actually have copyright to “Kookaburra” but the Australian Girl Guides do.

According to court documents, lawyers for the songwriters and the record companies will argue “the Down Under work does not incorporate the whole or any substantial part of the “Kookaburra work.”

Categories: Copyright, News, Opinion, passing off

1 reply

  1. From Australian Copyright Council website:

    The Federal Court has handed down an interim decision in a case brought by Larrikin Music Publishing Pty Ltd (’Larrikin’) against the composers of the song “Down Under” and the owner and licensee of “Down Under” (EMI); Larrikin allege that the composers and EMI infringed its copyright in the song “Kookaburra sits in the Old Gum Tree”.

    The composers and EMI argued that Larrikin did not own the relevant parts of the copyright in the song, which had been created by a Ms Sinclair, and entered into a competition held by the Girls Guides Association of Victoria (’Victorian Girl Guides’). The question for the Court was to determine whether entry into the competition constituted assignment of copyright to the Victorian Girl Guides under the 1912 Copyright Act and whether subsequent assignment of copyright to Larrikin was effective.

    The Court held that:

    * the evidence presented to the Court did not demonstrate that written assignment of copyright had occurred when Ms Sinclair entered the competition;
    * by signing and initialling the pages of the competition entry, Ms Sinclair was merely trying to identify the work and was not assigning the copyright to the Victorian Girl Guides;
    * no intention to assign could be demonstrated by the actions of either Ms Sinclair or the Victorian Girl Guides;
    * the competition rule that “all matter entered to become the property” of the Victorian Girl Guides did not reveal an intention to effect assignment of copyright; and
    * the chain of title was clearly documented and Kookaburra has properly been assigned to Larrikin.

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