FIve per cent nation

A couple of months back we reported that Aussies one-hit wonders Men At Work would have to shell out a whopping 60 per cent of all royalties ever paid for Down Under, after the Sydney Federal Court ruled that they plagiarised the melody of the song from an the Girl Guides song ‘Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree’, but thankfully for Men At Work fans that ruling has been overturned. Hooray, right?

The band have now only got to pay 5 per cent of the money earned from the song since 2002 , as well as any future royalties to Larrikin Music, who own the copyright to Marion Sinclair’s 70-year-old song. They bought the rights in 1990 after Sinclair’s death in 1988, and argued successfully that Men At Work had pinched the flute riff, but the band demanded a retrial before handing over any money.

‘I consider the figures put forward by Larrikin to be excessive, overreaching and unrealistic,’ said Federal Court Justice Peter Jacobson. The ruling has saved the band a lot of cash, as the song is still very popular at national events down under. Any reference to Sinclair's folk song was ‘inadvertent, naive, unconscious’, said Down Under co-writer Colin Hay.

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