Moscow, January 13, 2010
: My pal Luke Harding reports
that James Cameron stands accused of ‘borrowing’ from Russian Sci Fi author brothers Boris and Arkady Shrugatsky in creating the world of ‘Avatar’.
Luke further tells us that the sole surviving Shrugatsky, Boris, ‘shrugged off’ the suggestion, denied accusing Cameron of plagiarism. No harm done. And in a delicious potentially plagiaristic sub-plot, numerous other outlets play the same obvious ‘shrug’ gag the following day.
Sydney, February 5, 2010: The Australian Federal Court rules that an incidental flute riff in Men at Work’s ‘Down Under’ bears too much of a resemblance to the old girl scout refrain, Kookaburra, penned by one Marion Sinclair in 1934. That, when our heroes weren’t busy buying bread from men in Brussels, their dastardly deeds included stealing tunes off of Aussie schoolgirls.
The contrast? Boris Shrugatsky, 76-year-old niche sci-fi writer appears, as we’ve said, unfazed by Avatar’s resemblance to his work – and perhaps, justifiably, even a little flattered by the comparison. No accusations made, no damages sought.
Kookaburra’s owner, however, is Larrikin music, who bought the rights from Marion Sinclair’s estate 56 years after she wrote it, and shortly after her death. Larrikin is seeking substantial damages from the boys in the fried-out Kombi. Says Larrikin’s MD, Norman Lurie, of Kookaburra:
“It’s earned a hell of a lot of money for us since we’ve bought it.”
Moral high ground’s all yours, Boris. Vegemite sandwich?