Artists who have released albums on Larrikin include Eric Bogle, Sirocco, Mike and Michelle Jackson, Bobby McLeod, Kev Carmody, Flying Emus, Robyn Archer, Redgum, Margret RoadKnight, Jeannie Lewis, Mark Atkins, Renée Geyer, Rank Strangers, The Sweets of Sin, Richard Frankland and Currency from Canberra.
In recent years, Larrikin has been infamous for copyright lawsuits against the performers of the song Down Under. The suit was successful and profitable for Larrikin, but it was widely perceived as unfair profiteering and led to sufficient popular outrage against the label that its name had to be changed.
The Larrikin Records label became famous in 2009 after Larrikin Music sued the band Men At Work for allegedly using part of the melody of the song "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree," whose publishing rights are held by Larrikin Music, in the music of their hit "Down Under".
Warren Fahey, the former owner of both Larrikin Music and Larrikin Records, has always refuted claims that he was personally responsible for the action (see, e.g. ABC/Rebel Studio DVD 3747195 "Larrikin Lad—Warren Fahey" and "Larrikin Records and Larrikin Music Founder Speaks Out", Australian Folk Lore Unit website, 9 February 2010). Fahey had sold his music publishing company, Larrikin Music, to Music Sales Corporation in 1988 and Larrikin Records to Festival Music in 1995 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warren_Fahey).
On February 2010, the Federal Court ruled in Larrikin's favor and on 10 July 2010, Justice Jacobsen ordered Men At Work frontman Colin Hay, fellow songwriter Ron Strykert and EMI to pay Larrikin 5 per cent of future profits, as well as royalties dating back to 2002. EMI appealed the ruling, while Colin Hay "slammed" the court's decision, claiming it "will hamper musical creativity across the industry.".
Larrikin's former owner Warren Fahey responded to the wide criticism against the court's decision and to Colin Hay's verbal attacks, by suggesting that Larrikin "gift this song to the [Australian] nation. Fahey said that Larrikin "should be entitled to collect an appropriate settlement" but then "should allow the song its own life so as to ensure future young Australians can sing and perform it for generations to come, without limitation.This was also the reason that Greg Ham, The flutist/saxophone for men at work had a heart attack due to stress.
Norm Lurie, the managing director of Music Sales, Larrikin’s parent company, defended the court action. He stated, "Of course it would be disengenuous for me to say that there wasn’t a financial aspect involved, [but] you could just as easily say what has won out today is the importance of checking before using other people’s copyrights." He added, ironically, "I’d hope that Colin [Hay] and the other writers of Men At Work don’t have a problem with people using some of their material for financial gain."
Business Name Change
Larrikin Records/Larrikin Music Publishing in an attempt to distance the brand and company from the Kookaburra controversy, will be renamed in 2014 to 'Happy as Larry'
- Larrikin Records catalogue from the website of Powerhouse Museum (accessed 29 May 2013)
- "Down Under and Kookaburra in copyright battle", News.com Australia, 12 October 2008
- "Men at Work plundered Kookaburra riff: court", News.com Australia, 4 February 2010
- "Kookaburra gets last laugh in Men At Work case", ABC News, 7 July 2010
- "EMI appeals against Down Under ruling", News.com Australia, 25 February 2010
- "Men at Work frontman slams court ruling", News.com Australia, 5 February 2010
- "Larrikin Records and Larrikin Music Founder Speaks Out", Australian Folk Lore Unit website, 9 February 2010
- "Kookaburra case: publisher hits back at Colin Hay's 'greed' claim", The Age, 5 February 2010