Men at Work ‘stole’ riff

Court finds hit 'Down Under' plagiarized 'Kookaburra'

Australian band Men at Work’s worldwide hit “Down Under” breached the copyright of a children’s nursery rhyme, according to the Australian Federal Court.

The court found Thursday that the song’s famous flute riff reproduced a “substantial part” of the tune “Kookaburra Sits in an Old Gum Tree.”

Larrikin Music, which owns the copyright to “Kookaburra,” written in the 1930s by Marion Sinclair, will now seek to recover damages of up to 60% of royalties.

Written by Colin Hay and Ron Strykert in 1981, “Down Under” became an Aussie anthem and topped the local charts as well as charts in the U.K. and the U.S. The tune has been widely used in television shows and in films, including “Finding Nemo.” Because of this, Larrikin’s claim could run to millions of dollars.

The legal action was launched in 2007 against Hay, Strykert and diskery EMI after the similarity was pointed out on music quizzer “Spicks and Specks,” which airs on pubcaster the ABC.

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