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Men at Work appeal Down Under plagiarism ruling

Kookaburra? What kookaburra?

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EMI Music has lodged an appeal against the ruling that the flute riff in Down Under by Oz band Men at Work was plagiarised from Lucky Country kids' favourite Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree.

A Sydney court earlier this month ruled in favour of Kookaburra copyright holder Larrikin Music, decreeing the offending flute part was indeed snatched from the 1934 ditty written by Marion Sinclair for a Girl Guides Jamboree.

A costs hearing was set for this month, and Larrikin hopes to take 40-60 per cent of the song's earning from songwriters Colin Hay and Ron Strykert, and Sony BMG Music Entertainment and EMI Songs Australia.

EMI Music has filed papers with the Federal Court in Sydney, which list "14 grounds for appeal", including that the similarity between the tunes can only be detected by a "highly educated musical ear".

The appeal also describes the flute riff as "at most, a form of tribute to the tune", the BBC explains.

Furthermore, EMI argues, "the Girl Guides Association of Victoria state actually owned the copyright, as they sponsored the 1934 Girl Guides song competition for which the song was written".

Colin Hay earlier this month issued a statement which described any reference to Kookaburra as "inadvertent, naive, unconscious". He said: "By the time Men At Work had recorded the song, it had become unrecognisable."

Readers with highly educated musical ears are invited to spot the flute-playing kookaburra sitting in the old gum tree in this entertaining Down Under vid:

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