Men at Work Loses Final Court Bid Over 'Down Under' Song

8:46 AM PST 10/07/2011 by THR staff
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The group's songwriters and record label will have to pay part of their royalties for using too much of a children's campfire song in their 1980s hit.

Men at Work, the Australian rock band known for its 1981 hit, "Down Under," has lost its final court appeal to overturn a ruling that said the group had stolen the flute riff from its hit from a traditional children's song.

A Federal Court Justice in Australia last year ruled that "Down Under" took much of its music from the song, "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree." That song, written more than 70 years ago, is still under copyright to the publishing company Larrikin Music. Men at Work songwriters Colin Hay and Ron Strykert, as well as their record label EMI Songs Australia, were ordered to pay 5 percent of royalties from the song earned since 2002 and all future royalties to the company.

The group, through its attorneys, had sought to overturn the judge's ruling, but that has been shot down the High Court of Australia, the Associated Press reports.

In an email, an attorney for Larrikin said, "Larrikin welcomes the decision and looks forward to resolving the remaining issues between the parties."

An attorney for EMI called the decision disappointing.

The song "Down Under" reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard's Hot 100 chart in 1981. It is considered a popular and patriotic song in Australia.  "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree" was written by an Australian school teacher and remains a campfire favorite.

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