I am not sure how many have heard about the copyright lawsuit case between Larrikin Publishing and the band Men At Work over the song 'Down Under.' If you haven't, then check out the details in this article. Go ahead, I'll patiently wait here.
Obviously, as a person who aspires to have a career that involves creating product for the mass consumption of society, the issue of copyright holds a great deal of interest to me. I completely believe an artist's hard work needs to be protected from those who want to profit by ripping it off. Simply put, I am wholeheartedly opposed to plagiarism, and if I wasn't, I'd be a fool for wanting to break into the novel writing business. Either I would find myself in a rather nasty lawsuit for snagging someone else's masterpiece, or I would come off as a massive hypocrite when I take action against a person who decided they wanted to claim my novel ideas as their own. I definitely believe the tighter the copyright laws, the better. Things have improved greatly from 100 plus years ago when many dirtbags who lacked a creative thought were able to steal ideas from the talented and creative because the matters of intellectual property and international copyright was unclear or unwritten. I fully endorse copyright and hope it will be able to protect me (though, I hope to never have to enter into any type of lawsuit), but I think this issue goes into the territory of pure insanity (or actually, where a copyright hurts the artist).
Let me get this straight, the lady who wrote the girl guide's song 'Kookaburra' passes away in 1988 which lead to the rights of the song going to Larrikin Music publishing which is a part of a multinational company, Music Sales. This company has owned this song since about 1988, a song that has been written since 1935. Men At Work released 'Down Under' in 1981, and went on to become a huge international hit. You would think Ms. Marion Sinclair would have either heard this song or had a close friend that would have made her aware of it, considering this hit maker was happening in their own country. When Larrikin Music got the rights to this song in 1988, I would have assumed they had heard of 'Down Under.' Yet a copyright lawsuit was not filed until this past year? Serious?
I imagine that one day an executive at Larrikin was sitting at home and thinking, 'By Golly, I really would love a Vegemite sandwich and a can of Fosters, but I'm all out and don't feel like using my own money. Where can steal some from a helpless sucker?" While he was scheming his master plan of evil, he decided it was good to conjure up this diabolical plan while rocking out to some music. He picked up his 'Men At Work' album to listen to and suddenly exclaimed, 'I'm sure I can find a song on here that vaguely resembles something my company owns the rights to. Vegemite and Fosters will be mine!!!!'
Seriously, this is nothing but a vile cash grab. Copyright laws should be in place to help the artist. They are designed to protect creative works. The reality is, the person who wrote 'Kookaburra' has passed away over 20 years ago and none of her family even owns the rights to this song. It is a song owned by a corporation, and they simply found a way to earn some easy money. If this was really an issue about copyright, why wasn't there any discussion of this back in 1981? You know, when 'Down Under' was being played on the airwaves? Back when Men At Work were actually a big name? Instead a lawsuit is being filed almost 30 years after the song hit the airwaves, and a long time after Men At Work are even considered relevant. Essentially someone realized 'Down Under' made a lot of money off royalties and they wanted a large piece of that.
I think, the most frustrating part is how the execs at Larrikin are claiming this as a win for the little people. The truth is, this isn't a win for Ms. Sinclair at all, she has passed one thus won't see a cent. This is a win for a large and greedy company. I feel this is a horrible abuse of the copyright system and am quite saddened about it.
I just hope when I publish my epic about pick ax wielding squirrels that some nasty corporation doesn't decide they want my royalties 30 years after the fact.