Australian pop group Men at Work have been ordered to hand over five per cent of the royalties from their 1980s hit song Down Under after a judge ruled they had copied part of the tune from a popular children’s campfire song.
The flute riff of the song was found to have been taken from the song Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gumtree.
A Federal Court judge in Sydney ruled the band must relinquish the royalties, expected to total several hundred thousand dollars, to Larrikin Music, which owns the rights to Kookaburra. The final amount is not expected to reach into the millions, because, under Australian law, compensation only dates back to 2002.
The popular Kookaburra was written more than 70 years ago by Australian teacher Marion Sinclair for a Girl Guides competition. The song about the native Australian bird and its distinctive call has been a favourite around campfires from New Zealand to Canada.
Earlier this year, Larrikin, which bought the copyright to the song for $6100 in 1990, filed a lawsuit that claimed Men At Work had infringed the song’s copyright by using the signature flute melody in Down Under.
Did Men at Work rip off Kookaburra? Judge for yourself