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5 February 2010
CANBERRA, Australia - Australian federal court judge Peter Jacobsen ruled in favor of the estate of Millicent Beauregard, which claimed in a copyright infringement lawsuit that Ms. Beauregard wrote a song in her bathtub sometime in the late 19th century that used the same C# note that almost every artist ever to record music has used at one time or another.
This list includes not only every Australian artist, including major hit single producers such as Men at Work and Midnight Oil, but also every other artist on the planet. Artists are now required to pay the estate of Ms. Beauregard as much as 60 percent of any earnings from songs that use the note C# anywhere in the melody or harmony.
The lawsuit was filed when a contestant on a popular music game show identified the Beauregard piece when the singular note was played. The note, however, had come from the 1981 Men at Work hit single, Down Under. The proprietor of the Beauregard estate saw the episode while scarfing down a vegemite sandwich in his trailer and decided to pursue what he saw was just reparations for the use of his great-grandmother's intellectual property.
Initial research has found that almost every artist has used the note in at least ten percent of their output, with the notable exceptions of Black Flag and Disturbed, who have never used any notes at all.
Judge Jacobsen was emphatic in his ruling. "I have come to the view." he wrote in his decision against the artists, "that the use of C# in any recording infringes on the copyright of that one song from 1880-something because it replicates in material form a substantial part of Ms. Beauregard's work."
There is no word yet on whether Anders Hejlsberg, developer of the popular computer programming language of the same name, will also need to pay royalties to the Beauregard estate.
- Lyndsey Parker "Are all Australian federal court judges as mad as a bag of geese?". Yahoo! Music, February 5, 2010