Ever since man started to bash things together & call it music, it has been accompanied by the risk that what you think you composed, is deemed by others not to be an original creation. But this is hardly suprising as even before birth we are being bombarded with sounds, and all of these have been filed away, often without realising, in our brains. In the same way that authors must try to block out everything they've ever read, so songwriters must ignore everything they've ever heard. I think this must be a lot harder to do. Whether it is the Bach overtones in "A Whiter Shade of Pale", or the claims that the melodies of Lloyd-Webber were influenced by The Beatles, or the myriad of sampling in tracks from the 90s.
The lastest round in this contest involves an 80's hit by Australian rockers Men at Work entitled "Down Under" published by CBS (now owned by Sony BMG Music Entertainment), and a traditional kids song "Kookaburra" written by Marion Sinclair, a college teacher from Toorak, for a Girl Guide Jamboree. It was obviously her wish that the song would remain publicly accessible, when she signed it over to the Libraries Board of South Australia, although it has now been acquired by a commercial company Larrikin Music.
Exact details are yet to be clarified, though it is a little comfusing why it has taken so long, the kids song, sung by every campfire since 1934 is now part of Australian culture. Surely if you think there was a good case, then bring the action as soon as the other track is released in 1981, and not wait thirty years, until its a global hit. Also taking the question-writing accuracy of a TV quiz show, in this case (Spicks & Specks), as Gospel is never a good idea. A jury in a Federal Court will have to decide in November.