Men at Work must pay Down Under royalties
Australian band Men at Work has been ordered to turn over five per cent of the royalties from its hit 1980s song Down Under.
In Sydney on Tuesday, Federal Court Justice Peter Jacobson ordered the band's recording company, EMI Songs Australia, and the song's writers, Colin Hay and Ron Strykert, to pay five per cent of Down Under's royalties since 2002 and forward them to publishing company Larrikin Music.
In February, Jacobson had ruled that a flute melody in Down Under is copied from an internationally known children's campfire song called Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, for which Larrikin owns the copyright.
Larrikin, which filed the copyright lawsuit in 2009, had sought 60 per cent of Down Under's royalties.
However, in the ruling issued Tuesday, Jacobson wrote he considered "the figures put forward by Larrikin to be excessive, overreaching and unrealistic."
Hay, Men at Work's lead singer, has admitted that the later, modified version of Down Under that became popular in the 1980s does reference Kookaburra. However, he has also insisted that when he and Strykert originally wrote the tune in 1978, the flute riff was not part of the song.
Hay and Strykert did not appear in court for the decision, but a lawyer for EMI said the company plans to continue with its appeal of the February decision.
Marion Sinclair, an Australian teacher, wrote Kookaburra (about the native Australian bird) for a Girl Guides songwriting competition in 1934. Sinclair died in 1988 and, two years later, Larrikin bought the rights to the song at an auction.
Down Under, which was released on Men at Work's 1983 album Business As Usual, was an international hit and has grown into a sort of unofficial anthem for Australia. The band was named best new artist at the 1983 Grammy Awards.
With files from The Associated Press