According to a court ruling passed down yesterday, 1980s Aussie band Men At Work stole the flute riff for their best-known song 'Down Under' from the children's classic 'Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree'.
The well known campfire favourite was written by teacher Marion Sinclair for a Guides competition over 70 years ago, and nowadays is probably the second most famous Australian song taught to children the world over, after 'Waltzing Matilda'. Since the death of Sinclair in 1988, the copyright to the song has belonged to publishing company Larrikin Music, who filed the lawsuit against Men At Work last year.
Federal court Justice Peter Jacobson ruled "I have come to the view that the flute riff in Down Under ... infringes on the copy¬right of Kookaburra because it replicates in material form a substantial part of Ms Sinclair's 1935 work". Compensation will be discussed in a separate court hearing on February 25th, and representation for Larrikin Music have stated that the company may seek up to 60% of royalties earned by the hit single since it topped charts in the early 1980s.
I never thought about it before, but I suppose it does sound sort of similar. Listen below and decide for yourself. I have to admit, this song is one of my few guilty pleasures.