BBC and others reported that Men at Work’s biggest hit “Down Under” was adjudged by Australian courts to have its main riff stolen from the classic Australian hit “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.”

If those two riffs are similar (I’m only sensing a vague resemblance), what would Australian courts have to say about U2’s flagrant (and admitted) copying of A-HA’s “The Sun Always Shines on TV”?

Getting to be the best brand is all about copying what your competitors do, and adding something special of your own. In music, blatant copying (like in the U2 case) should be acknowledged and royalties paid. Similarities in rhythm and melody (like in the Men At Work case) should be overlooked.  Unfortunately the rules get muddled up by different standards in different countries.