Men at Work to pay out royalties

A judge has ordered the Australian band Men at Work to hand over 5 per cent of the recent royalties from their 1980s hit "Down Under", after a ruling in February that its distinctive flute riff was copied from a children's campfire song.

But the penalty was far less than the 60 per cent sought by publishing company Larrikin Music, which holds the copyright for the song "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree".

The original was written more than 70 years ago by an Australian teacher Marion Sinclair for a Girl Guides competition.

Federal Court Justice Peter Jacobson ordered EMI Songs Australia and the songwriters Colin Hay and Ron Strykert, to pay 5 per cent of royalties earned since 2002 and from its future earnings. A statute of limitations restricted Larrikin from seeking royalties earned before 2002.

EMI is appealing against the February ruling.