Men at Work swiped Down Under riff

Oz classic plagiarised Girl Guides' ditty, court rules

Australian band Men at Work could be substantially out of pocket after Sydney federal court ruled that the flute riff from Down Under was ripped off from Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.

The latter was penned in 1934 by Marion Sinclair for a Girl Guides Jamboree, and "has since been sung by generations of Australian schoolchildren", the BBC explains. The former, a Vegemite-fuelled tribute to the Lucky Country's backpacking spirit, was a global hit in the early 1980s and has since become an unofficial Oz anthem.

Now, however, Kookaburra copyright holder Larrikin Music is poised to take its share of the Down Under booty. Quite how much that will be remains to be seen: a costs hearing is scheduled for February, with Larrikin demanding 40-60 per cent of "earnings from songwriters Colin Hay and Ron Strykert and record companies Sony BMG Music Entertainment and EMI Songs Australia".

Following the Sydney court's decision, Larrikin's lawyer Adam Simpson triumphed: "It's a big win for the underdog."

Readers are hereby invited to crack open a cold one and decide for themselves just how much of a plagiarism outrage Larrikin suffered at the hands of Men at Work:

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