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EMI loses appeal over Down Under song

By | Published on Thursday 31 March 2011


An appeals court in Australia has upheld that previous ruling that said Larrikin Music, publisher of Aussie children’s song ‘Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gumtree’, is due a cut of all royalties on the Men At Work classic ‘Down Under’, because the short but distinctive flute bit in the 1981 pop hit borrowed from the folk tune.

Australia’s Federal Court last year ruled that Larrikin should get 5% of all ‘Down Under’ royalties paid back to 2002. It was considerably less than Larrikin had asked for, but EMI – which argued that no royalty should be due, and even questioned whether Larrikin really owned the ‘Kookaburra’ song – nevertheless appealed.

But a panel of three appeal judges upheld last year’s ruling this week, and ordered EMI to also cover Larrikin’s legal costs in relation to the appeal.

After the original ruling last summer, Men At Work’s Greg Ham told told “It has destroyed so much of my song. It will be the way the song is remembered and I hate that. I’m terribly disappointed that that’s the way I’m going to be remembered – for copying something. I’ll never see another cent out of that song again. We’ll face massive legal costs. At the end of the day, I’ll end up selling my house”.