4 Feb 2010

Men at Work ripped off girl guides song, court rules

9:22 pm on 4 February 2010

Members of Australian rock band Men at Work could be facing a hefty legal bill after a court ruled they plagiarised part of their worldwide 1980s hit Down Under.

Larrikin Music accused the band of stealing the song's flute riff from the children's song Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree.

Record companies EMI and Sony BMG disputed the claim, but on Thursday the Australian Federal Court ruled in Larrikin Music's favour, the ABC website reports.

Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree was written by Melbourne teacher Marion Sinclair for a Girl Guides jamboree in 1934 and has been sung by generations of Australian children ever since.

Larrikin owns the rights to the song and took the record companies to court demanding compensation from Down Under songwriters Colin Hay and Ron Strykert.

Costs have yet to be determined, but Larrikin's solicitor Adam Simpson says they could run to 60% of the income derived from the song.

Colin Hay says he is disappointed at the court's decision and does not believe the bars in question represent a substantial part of the Kookaburra song.