Now then: for the foreigners in the audience, a kookaburra is the greatest bird that ever lived. It's a cheeky, colourful kind of kingfisher with a startling, beautiful laugh-like song. They're friendly, funny, and they have a song written about them.
Written in 1934 (or 1937, depending on who you ask), this song has been very popular among Australian schoolchildren. Think 'Waltzing Matilda', but sung in elementary schools across the nation. I sang it as a kid living in rural Victoria in 1979.
In 1981, Men at Work had their 15 minutes of fame around the world with two songs, one of which was about Australia, and talked about things like Vegemite and drinking so much you throw up (chunder). Very Australian, and there were eight to ten notes in the middle that sounded quite a bit like the main verses in the Kookaburra song. An Australian song giving a little hat-tip to another Australian song, how charming!
The original author, Marion Sinclair, never complained about it (she died in 1988).
In 1990, a subsidiary of the "multinational company Music Sales Group" called Larrikin Music bought the rights to her songs, and twenty years later they've won a lawsuit against the Men at Work for... Well, theft? Piracy? I'm not sure what legal basis they built their suit on, but they won.
The damages aren't yet know, but they asked for 40-60% of every penny that the band made on this song since its release.
I'm not of the opinion that eight to ten notes constitutes any kind of infringement, and I'm certainly not fond of companies that buy the rights to things and then sue anyone who strays anywhere close to their 'property'. Especially seventy three years after the fact. These things should not be perpetual!
Anyway, it's disgusting.