Men at Work must pay 5% of royalties

Men at Work songwriters Colin Hay and Ron Strykert have avoided a crippling legal payout over the origins of the Australian band’s 1983 global hit “Down Under.”

The pair were told in Sydney on Tuesday that they must pay 5% of the royalties from the hit song backdated to 2002 and the same percentage of any future royalties to publisher Larrikin Music, which had been seeking 60%.

A court found in February that a key flute riff in the song had been taken from the kids song “Kookaburra,” written by schoolteacher Marion Sinclair in 1934; rights had been purchased by Larrikin Music, which brought the action against the group.

Federal Court judge Peter Jacobson said that Larrikin’s 60% demand was “excessive, overreaching and unrealistic.”

Mark Bamford, a lawyer for EMI Songs Australia, said the company plans to continue with its appeal of the February ruling.

No estimate for the 5% royalty repayment is yet available.

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