A MUSIC publisher claiming the Australian band Men at Work stole a riff from a popular children’s song may not be entitled to sue for breach of copyright because it may not own the rights, a court has heard.Larrikin Music claims that the flute riff in the band’s 1981 classic, Down Under copied the Australian children’s classic Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree, written in 1934 by a Melbourne music teacher, Marion Sinclair, for a Girl Guide competition.In a hearing in the Federal Court yesterday, counsel for Larrikin, David Yates, SC, said Down Under reproduced a “substantial part” of Kookaburra without permission or payment of royalties to Larrikin and Ms Sinclair.CLICK HERE FOR MEN AT WORK VIDEO But Sony BMG and EMI, along with the two writers of Down Under, Colin Hay and Ron Strykert, claim Ms Sinclair handed over copyright to the Girl Guides Association of Victoria when she submitted it to the competition and that Larrikin never owned the rights.Counsel for EMI, David Catterns, QC, told the court Ms Sinclair had entered the competition calling for entrants to submit a song in the round, a short story, a poem or a picture that could be used for a Christmas card. He said money raised from the six pence entry fee as well as money made selling the winning entries would go towards building a guide camp house.Competition details were printed in a circular and the official Girl Guide magazine Matilda, stating that all material entered would become property of the Girl Guide Association of Victoria, Mr Catterns said.”It’s not just saying ‘don’t blame us if we lose your drawing or song’,” he told the court. “It’s saying ‘we are going to get the copyright because we are going to use it’.”But counsel for Larrikin, David Yates, SC, said Girl Guides Victoria never sought copyright and had instead asked Ms Sinclair for permission to reproduce it in a 1970 campfire songbook.Larrikin claims it had won a tender for the copyright for Kookaburra from the South Australian Public Trustee in 1990, after Ms Sinclair died.Its managing director, Norman Lurie, told the court it was not until nine years later that he was told Ms Sinclair had signed over her copyright to the Libraries Board of South Australia a year before her death. Mr Lurie claims he then bought the copyright from the board.He launched legal action against Down Under’s song writers and the record companies in 2007 after the television show Spicks And Specks raised the alleged similarities.The case has been adjourned until Friday.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.