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Colin Hay
© Scott D. Smith / Retna Ltd.
Men at Work stars ordered to give up royalties


A judge in Australia has ordered the songwriters behind Men at Work 's 1980s hit "Down Under" to give up 5 percent of the song royalties after a court battle over copyright.

Bosses at Larrikin music publishers in Sydney filed suit against bandmates Colin Hay and Ron Strykert, and the group's record label, EMI, claiming the flute solo in the track sampled parts of "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree," a song written by an Australian music teacher for the Girl Guides in 1934.

The Federal Court ruled against the Men at Work stars and their record label and ordered them to pay compensation, which could have amounted to up to 60 percent of the song's income.

Watch: See videos of "Down Under"

But a judgment released by Sydney's Federal Court on Tuesday says the stars will have to hand over only 5 percent of the song's proceeds dating back to 2002, as well as royalties from future earnings.

Judge Justice Jacobson described Larrikin's claim for a 50 percent share as "overreaching, excessive and, in my view, unrealistic."

He added, "Whether the hypothetical bargain is assessed at 1982 or 2002, the percentage interest payable is at the lowest end of the spectrum."