Men at Work lose royalties case

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The Independent Culture

The band Men at Work lost their final court battle yesterday to prove they did not steal the distinctive flute riff of their 1980s hit "Down Under" from a children's campfire song.

The High Court of Australia denied the band's request to appeal against an earlier ruling that they had copied the flute melody of "Down Under" from "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree" and had to pay royalties.

"Kookaburra", a song about the Australian bird, was written more than 70 years ago by a teacher, Marion Sinclair, for a Girl Guides competition. It went on to become a campfire favourite.

The wildly popular "Down Under" remains an unofficial anthem for Australia.

Mark Bamford, a lawyer for Men at Work's recording company EMI Songs Australia, called the court's decision "disappointing".