• In my opinion, copyright law is screwed up in the length of time it gives authors rights in their works. When I was a kid, the copyright term in the US was 28 years, renewable for another 28, and patents were 17 years from the date of issue. At that time I thought that 56 years was not the “limited time” referred to in US Constitution Article 1 Section 8 clause 8, but that 17 years was about right for both inventions and works of authorship. Authors would get paid for their creation in the most important years in exchange for eventually turning the work over to the public, and the public would have a date certain as to when the work would become theirs without monitoring obituary columns. And, 17 years would promote more authorship that benefited living individuals by allowing living individuals to freely make derivitive works.

    Then total insanity came about with the Copywright Act of 1976 which increased the copyright term to the life of the author plus 50 years (for all practical purposes perpetuity), and 75 years for corporate authorship. In 1989, the US became a signatory to the Berne Convention which calls for a minimum length of copyright of the life of the author plus 50 years, but individual countries can have longer periods. Then in 1998 Congress really went mad when it passed the Copyright Term Extension Act (a/k/a The Sonny Bono Act, a/k/a The Micky Mouse Protection Act) where the term of copyrights acquired after 1976 would be extended to the life of the author plus 50 years, or 75 years for a work of corporate authorship. The Act extended these terms to life of the author plus 70 years and for works of corporate authorship to 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever endpoint is earlier. Copyright protection for works published prior to January 1, 1978 was increased by 20 years to a total of 95 years from their publication date.

    Kookaburra, along with other works from that era should be in the public domain, but aren’t because of copyrights that give effective perpetual rights (no Rule Against Perpetuities for copyrights). That notwithstanding, since it is obvious that “Down Under” incorporates the Kookaburra tune, the copyright is indeed violated. Damages are another story. The 60% that the Kookaburra copyright holders are asking should get them tossed out of court under the “greedy makes no sense doctrine”. 60% may be an appropriate figure for a pure rip-off of the Kuokaburra Song. I think that 0.25% to 1% of profits in this instance is more appropriate.

  • Laugh, Kookaburra! Laugh:
    Sweet irony that the Girl Guides rise above Men at Work in the battle of the sexes!