Kookaburra sits on his royal-tee


An Australian judge has ruled that a flute riff in Men at Work’s “Down Under” wrongfully used the most famous nursery tune associated with Australia, “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree,” which turns out to be a composition from 1932 still under copyright. [Carton/Legal Blog Watch, Fountain]

8 Comments

  • I guess the only safe thing to do from now on to prevent any possibility of a copyright violation is to not play music in any movie. And don’t even think about using silence. That has been copyrighted by John Cage.

  • The song Down Under came out in 1981 and they are just now getting a judge to rule on the copyright issue?

  • They’re also apparently trying to recover from the band only. What, the record company didn’t profit from the song?

  • “The song Down Under came out in 1981 and they are just now getting a judge to rule on the copyright issue?”

    Nobody even knew that there was any issue until a quiz show asked a question about the song asking ” what childrens’ song melody is Down Under based on” (or something to that effect).

  • Call me crazy, but I just don’t hear it and I am really good at picking out tunes. They are similar, but not the same. Stupid decision, IMO.

  • You could sing the words “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree” to the flute riff, because the the number of syllables and the number of notes match, but the actual notes of the flute riff don’t match the actual notes of Kookaburra.

    I’ve known the Kookaburra song since I was a child, and I was almost an adult when Land Down Under came out. I have never, until this story, associated Land Down Under with Kookaburra.

  • Crikey!

  • Gee, I live in the US and I remember being taught that song when I was in elementary school.