Men At Work were found guilty today for plagiarizing the flute riff from their mega-hit "Down Under." The riff was found to originate in the folk tune "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree" written by Marion Sinclair in 1935. Music company Larrikin is demanding between 40 and 60 percent of the all time earning from the tune.
That song was awesome. Plus, it was just the flute part they were pursuing and it's been almost 27 years since the song was released? According to the article, it states that part of the flute riff was ripped off. How many notes can you play on any given instrument until you ultimately have to refer to formulas? Many rock songs have the same chords used relentlessly without copyright infringement, for example. The same should apply to a damn flute, which, to me, seems much more limited than a guitar. To top it all off, Marion Sinclair died over twenty years ago so she obviously doesn't care. The publisher, Larrikin Music, seems desperate for money.
I love that Men at Work song. And, i'm also taking a class on copyright, and have pretty much come to believe that even the slightest copying counts as infringement. Kind of goes against the original purposes of copyright, which was to encourage authors/creators to create things. Now you can't, because you are constantly fearful that you'll be plagiarizing. Plus, with protections lasting life+70 years, I don't know... it's one thing to not be able to steal an exact book, but a flute riff when the rest of the song is different? Common'.