Men at Work must pay for copied riff

Colin Hay former Men at Work singerThe distinctive flute riff in the band Men at Work's biggest hit, "Down Under," will cost the Australian musicians 5% of its royalties earned since 2002 after a judge ordered the band to pay up in a copyright infringement lawsuit.

A Sydney judge had previously ruled that the riff was copied from the children's campfire song, "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree." That song was written more than 70 years ago by Australian teacher Marion Sinclair and its rights are now owned by publishing company Larrikin Music, which sued for copyright infringement last year. Sinclair died in 1988.

EMI Songs Australia and "Down Under" songwriters Colin Hay and Ron Strykert were ordered to pay the royalties just back to 2002 because a statute of limitations bars seeking cash from earlier years. The 1983 song topped charts worldwide and has become an unofficial Australian anthem.

EMI lawyer Mark Bamford told the Associated Press that the company plans to continue its appeal in the case. Larrikin had sought 60% of the song's royalties, but Federal Court Justice Peter Jacobson reduced that amount, calling it "excessive, overreaching and unrealistic."

Decide for yourself if the riff was ripped off with the "Down Under" music video and a chorus rendition of the campfire song.
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