4.2.10

LooneyTunes


We all read the papers and accept most of it as true or accurate.
We also assume that a Queen's Counsel, engaged at a daily fee that could buy a car, would know what he was talking about.

This is not always the case.
This week the news subtitles imply that Colin Hay stole a tune.
.
From our reading of all the reports of the stoush over this charge, we give you quotes from published claims:

"Federal Court was told today 'the owners of the copyright should be entitled to royalties earned by MenAtWork for their 1980s smash hit" because - "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree is
a distinct and memorable Australian melody" ... 
NOT AT ALL. It is Welsh - an old song about blackbirds:
"Wele ti'n eistedd aderyn du?"

"based on the agreement under which the song was written, the copyright was actually held by the Girl Guides Association" ...  To the lyric maybe. Hay did not use the lyric.

"Kookaburra" was entered in 1934 into a competition run by the Girl Guides Association of Victoria, with the rights of the winning song to be sold to raise money "

"In court documents, Larrikin said 'Kookaburra' was written by Toorak college teacher Marion Sinclair in 1934 for a Girl Guides jamboree in Melbourne".

NOT quite correct either. Sinclair could not have had the 1934 jamboree in mind in 1932 when she wrote her lyric using the traditional Welsh melody.

Sinclair "signed over her copyright to the Libraries Board of South Australia in 1987, a year before her death, it said. In 2000, Larrikin/Festival took over the copyright in an agreement backdated to 1990".

* * * * *
So, Festival Records, buyer of the Larrikin label back-catalogue of traditional (non royalty) music,
claiming to own a traditional Welsh tune, the
lyricised winner of a 1934 contest which made it
the property of Girl Guides Victoria,
suing EMI Records as publishers of Hay's 1981 composition ... and 
the cheque, 
after The Lawyers Cut, 
will be sent to Old South Wales?.

A timeline we made from published claims by this case

1932, Marion Sinclair, put a kookaburra-themed lyric to a Traditional Welsh Folk melody (Anon.)
1934 it won a competition and became the property of The Girl Guides Of Australia.
1981, Colin Straw inserted a sample bar of this traditional Welsh melody into his 'DownUnder' composition ( note: melody not her lyric or their lyric)
1987 Marion Sinclair signed away to the Libraries Board Of South Australia) her right to her 'round' song (the one that became the property of the Guides).
1995 Festive records consumed the small Larrikin Records label.
2000 Festival/Larrikin "took over the copyright" ...

and all this legal carry-on over 2 bars of music.

The creative directors of every advertising agency know that 2-bars can be used without having to pay a royalty, so WTF?

Anyone reading headlines this week in Australia and in the international music trade mags, assumes from these headlines that Colin Straw is a plagiarist.

This is not the case, but will this be the outcome of the lawsuit?
May Mr. Straw, and good sense prevail.
Historically, musical copyright ceased 50 years from composition.
In 1956 rock-and-roll changed the nature of music and it's earning capacity.
All those hot songs in the free use public domain in 2006/7/8/9? - gee we don't think so, and sure enough, our the-PM John Howard embraced
a FreeTrade Agreement with the Bush USA which re-proscribed the deal as
"50 years from the death of the composer".
That gave them all some time to figure out how to hang onto their income from all those Chuck Berry songs he sold to his publishers for a flat $10 in 1959 anyhow.


Disclaimer
In the event we, farking great Marshall Stacks are incarcerated for sub-judice,
1. we will finally have a fixed address,
2. be sure we will torture our captors by singing Stand By Your Man relentlessly.
Rock ON.

First published 2009, republished 2010 on the day the verdict went againts Mr Hay. This is a dreadful miscarriage of the law, by people operating at their level of incompetence.

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