John Williamson Would Rather Go To Jail Than Pay To Sing 'Waltzing Matilda'

12 August 2015 | 4:58 pm | Staff Writer

Aussie legend is furious.

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Aussie country music legend John Williamson has expressed his anger at the controversy surrounding iconic national song Waltzing Matilda, following moves to trademark the tune which would result in artists having to pay to perform it. 

As Fairfax reports, Australian company WM Productions partly own trademark rights to the song originally written by Banjo Patterson in 1895 and are seeking to prevent it being used in merchandise and promotions. 

"If I had to pay someone to use the words Waltzing Matilda (on merchandise) then I would refuse and I would rather go to jail," Williamson said. 

The 69-year-old singer isn't alone in his opinion, as Patterson's great grandson Alistair Caird-Campbell also said that the song was written for all Australians and not for someone to profit from. 

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WM Productions have held the trademark rights since 1998 but are now applying for further rights following work on a Waltzing Matilda film. 

The controversy even caught the attention of Prime Minister Tony Abbott who has met with the Mayor of Winton in Queensland, the town in which the song was written.