Classic 80s lyrics from Men at Work’s biggest hit: ‘Do you come from a land down under, where women glow and men plunder?’

There is a certain irony in the use of the word ‘plunder’, now that the High Court of Australia has refused leave to appeal the findings of courts below that the band borrowed the song’s opening flute passage, without permission and to a substantial degree, from that earlier Aussie classic, ‘Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree’, originally published in 1934: see EMI Songs Australia Pty Ltd v Larrikin Music Publishing Pty Ltd, [2011] FCAFC 47.

The Federal Court of Australia concluded that the band had infringed copyright in the older song and that EMI, its record company, was required to pay 5% of royalties earned since 2002 to Larrikin, the current owner of the ‘Kookaburra’ copyright; claims arising before that date were barred by the applicable limitation period.

The remedy of disgorgement calls to mind another line from the song: ‘I come from a land down under, where beer does flow and men chunder...’ [Links available here and here]