Page last updated at 10:09 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 11:09 UK

Men At Work face plagiarism case

Men At Work
Men At Work had two number one singles in the US

A music publisher that says Australian band Men At Work stole a melody from a children's song in hit Down Under has won the first stage of a court battle.

Larrikin claims the flute riff from the 1981 hit is stolen from Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree, written by Marion Sinclair for the Girl Guides in 1934.

The band disputed Larrikin's claim that it bought the song's copyright in 1990.

But a judge in Sydney has ruled that the publisher does own the song, clearing the way for a plagiarism case.

Larrikin Music is suing Sony BMG and EMI for breach of copyright and is seeking royalties from the hit 80s song.

The publisher began the action after the alleged similarities were pointed out in a music quiz programme shown in Australia in 2007.

I said do you speak my language, he just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich

Lawyers for the record companies have denied the plagiarism claim.

They had also argued that the Kookaburra copyright was never properly signed over by Sinclair - who died in 1988 - and still belonged to the Girl Guides movement.

No date has been set for the next hearing.

Down Under, a number one in Australia, the US and the UK, tells the story of an Australian backpacker touring the world.

It pays tribute to "a land down under where beer does flow and men chunder".

The song also references popular Australian food spread Vegemite.

"I said 'do you speak my language?', he just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich," it says.

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