Breaking Legal News - POSTED: 2010/07/06 16:40
A judge ordered Australian band Men at Work on Tuesday to hand over a portion of the royalties from their 1980s hit "Down Under," after previously ruling its distinctive flute riff was copied from a children's campfire song.
But the penalty — 5 percent of the song's royalties — was far less than the 60 percent sought by publishing company Larrikin Music, which holds the copyright for the song "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree."
"Kookaburra" was written more than 70 years ago by Australian teacher Marion Sinclair for a Girl Guides competition, and the song about the native Australian bird has been a favorite around campfires from New Zealand to Canada.
Sinclair died in 1988, but Larrikin filed a copyright lawsuit last year. In February, Federal Court Justice Peter Jacobson ruled Men at Work had copied their song's signature flute melody from "Kookaburra."
On Tuesday, Jacobson ordered Men at Work's recording company, EMI Songs Australia, and "Down Under" songwriters Colin Hay and Ron Strykert, to pay 5 percent of royalties earned from the song since 2002 and from its future earnings. A statute of limitations restricted Larrikin from seeking royalties earned before 2002.