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Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars From Gutenberg to Gates by Adrian Johns

by
February 2011, no. 328

Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars From Gutenberg to Gates by Adrian Johns

by
February 2011, no. 328

When members of the rock band Men at Work recorded their legendary hit ‘Down Under’ in the early 1980s, they wanted to inject a stronger sense of Australianness into the song, so they included a flute riff of a few bars echoing the classic Australian children’s chorus ‘Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree’, just as one might, in a different geographical context, quote from ‘Rule Britannia’ or the ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ to convey a sense of a particular national identity. Little did the songwriters realise that someone owned the rights to the Kookaburra tune, such that reproducing even just a couple of seconds of it without permission could constitute an infringement of copyright.

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