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Men at Work loses copyright suit

Company claims the band copied a melody from a children’s song

The members of  the band Men at Work are crying over their vegemite sandwiches. Last week, the Australian rockers lost their final court bid to prove their song “Down Under” was solely their original work.

The band released the song in 1983 and it climbed to No. 1 spots on American, Australian and British charts. But in 2009, a publishing company, which owns the rights to the Australian song “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree,” accused Men at Work of copyright infringement. Larrikin Music claimed “Down Under” included a flute melody made famous in the children’s tune.

In 2010, an Australian federal court ruled that Men at Work’s song did indeed replicate the flute melody from “Kookaburra” and  ordered the band’s record company, EMI Songs Australia, and the song’s writers to give up 5 percent of future royalties for “Down Under.”

The band contends it didn’t copy the children’s song, but the high court’s decision last week ended the fight.

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

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Cathleen Flahardy

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