Big ruck down under

November 2008

Music Publishing

Australian music publishing firm Larrikin Music has lodged a statement of claim against the iconic 80’s hit ‘Down Under’ recorded by Aussie tunesmiths Men At Work alleging that the international song carries an unlicensed sample from a well known Australian children’s nursery rhyme, “Kookaburra,” which it represents. Larrikin claim that the flute riff in Men At Work’s hit is lifted from the earlier song, written in the 1930s by Marion Sinclair, a music teacher and a long time supporter of the Girl Guide movement which has embraced the song as a anthem. The proceedings were instigated when the similarities were raised during a September 2007 episode of the local ABC TV quiz show “Spicks and Specks.” During the show, the question was posed, “What children’s song is contained in the song ‘Down Under?’” The answer, according to the program, was “Kookaburra.” Larrikin is seeking compensation from the “Down Under” songwriters, Colin Hay and Ron Strykert, plus Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Sony DADC Australia, EMI Songs Australia and EMI Music Publishing and are claiming part ownership of the music telling “obviously, we’ve had nothing to do with the lyrics of the song – we’d say that’s 50% of the song – and we’re seeking a percentage of the musical component. That flute shrill has become such a significant part of the song. You’d be hard pressed to release the song without having that in it”. The matter will first go to mediation.

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