Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Kookaburra loot downsized

New developments in the Men at Work case, where the poor Aussies were being plundered of their earnings by a bunch of lawyers whose only creative act was to purchase an old copyright. The pirates, AKA Larrikin Music, were demanding 50% of their revenue of "Down Under" for a 4-second reference to a children's song. They won; EMI Records appealed; the appellate judge has ruled.

The result: yes, it's infringement, but Larrikin can only get 5%, apparently the lowest rate the judge can set. The judge found the claim for 50% to be "overreaching, excessive and in my view unrealistic".

I'm seeing the verdict spun in different ways - victory for Larrikin, because they still get money, or victory for EMI and Men at Work because they don't have to pay as much. I lean toward the former view, as I said previously: this is piracy, "Old School, let's sail around and find someone productive to plunder piracy." They likely didn't expect to get the 50% they asked for, but loot is still loot.

To cement the image of Larrikin as sanctimonious assholes, their lawyer actually said, "It's just really a pity that Marion Sinclair, the lady who wrote it, didn't participate in income from the song when the song was at its height in the early 80s," even though Larrikin only bought the copyright after Sinclair's death and probably has no intention of sharing their booty with her estate.

It may not be over: EMI is planning to appeal this ruling as well.

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