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Australian Band Ordered to Pay 5% of Royalties for Copying ‘Kookaburra’ in 1980s Hit

Posted Jul 6, 2010 6:38 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An Australian judge has ordered the band Men at Work to pay royalties to a music publisher for copying ''Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree” in a hit song from the 1980s.

Larrikin Music had sought 60 percent of the royalties from the song "Down Under," but was awarded only 5 percent, the Associated Press reports. Federal Court Justice Peter Jacobson wrote that Larrikin’s royalty request was “excessive, overreaching and unrealistic.”

Jacobson had ruled in February that the flute melody in the Men at Work song “replicates in material form a substantial part” of the Kookaburra song, a campfire favorite written by an Australian teacher for a Girl Guides competition more than 70 years ago.

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