Following up from earlier this month, EMI is appealing against the decision that Men at Work plagiarized a popular folk song in their 80’s hit “Down Under”:
Papers filed with the Federal Court in Sydney listed 14 grounds for appeal and stated songwriters Colin Hay and Ron Strykert did not breach copyright.
It said similarities may be noted only by a “highly educated musical ear”.
[. . .]
EMI Music said the inclusion of the melody was, at most, a form of tribute to the tune.
In its appeal, EMI also argued that the Girl Guides Association of Victoria state actually owned the copyright, as they sponsored the 1934 Girl Guides song competition for which the song was written.
The decision seemed odd in another way: lack of proportionality. The “offending” part is a very small section of the song, which would not seem to justify awarding 40-60% of the profits from the work to the plaintiff. Perhaps Australian law allows it, but it seems to be an attempt to “right a wrong” by inflicting a disproportional penalty, rather than an equitable one (that’s not to say I think the decision was correct, just a comment on the initial finding).