Larrikin Records

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Larrikin Records is a record company founded in 1974 by Warren Fahey. Larrikin started as an independent label and was sold in 1995 to Festival Records.[1]

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, though it was perceived by many as unfair profiteering.

Kookaburra controversy[edit]

The Larrikin Records label became widely known in 2009 after Larrikin Music sued the band Men At Work for allegedly stealing 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".[2]

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 Warren Fahey).

In February 2010, the Federal Court ruled in Larrikin's favour[3] 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.[4] EMI appealed the ruling,[5] while Colin Hay "slammed" the court's decision, claiming it "will hamper musical creativity across the industry.".[6]

Larrikin's former owner Warren Fahey responded to the wide criticism against the court's decision[7] 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.[7] The decision to sue the creators of "Down Under" was made by Norm Lurie, then the managing director of Music Sales, Larrikin’s parent company.[8]

When asked how much Larrikin would be seeking in damages, Larrikin's lawyer Adam Simpson replied: "anything from what we've claimed, which is between 40 and 60 per cent, and what they suggest, which is considerably less."[9][10][11] In court, Lurie claimed that, had the parties negotiated a licence at the outset as willing parties, the royalties would have been between 25 and 50 per cent.[12] Lurie defended the court action, stating: "Of course it would be disingenuous 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 "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."[13]

In the Journal of media arts and culture, Steve Collins analyzed the procedure and concluded that "Pure financial exploitations of copyrights in cases such as this are more likely to have an adverse effect on the incentive to create and chill future creativity."[14]

Business Name Change[edit]

In 2014, Larrikin Music Publishing was renamed 'Happy as Larry Music Publishing'.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Larrikin Records catalogue from the website of Powerhouse Museum (accessed 29 May 2013)
  2. ^ "Down Under and Kookaburra in copyright battle", Australia, 12 October 2008
  3. ^ "Men at Work plundered Kookaburra riff: court", Australia, 4 February 2010
  4. ^ "Kookaburra gets last laugh in Men At Work case", ABC News, 7 July 2010
  5. ^ "EMI appeals against Down Under ruling", Australia, 25 February 2010
  6. ^ "Men at Work frontman slams court ruling", Australia, 5 February 2010
  7. ^ a b "Larrikin Records and Larrikin Music Founder Speaks Out", Australian Folk Lore Unit website, 9 February 2010
  8. ^ Lars Brandle, Australian Music Publisher Norm Lurie To Retire In 2011, BillboardBiz, April 15, 2010
  9. ^ Dingle, Sarah (3 January 2012). "Australian court rules 'Down Under' riff plundered". Australia Plus. 
  10. ^ Dingle, Sarah (4 February 2010). "Men at Work plundered Kookaburra riff: court". ABC News. 
  11. ^ Arlington, Kim (5 February 2010). "Infringement Down Under". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 July 2010. Larrikin is entitled to recover damages 
  12. ^ "Larrikin Music Publishing Pty Ltd v EMI Songs Australia Pty Limited (No 2) [2010] FCA 698 (6 July 2010)". Federal Court of Australia. para. 45. Retrieved 27 April 2010. File number(s): NSD 145 of 2008 ... 45. Mr Lurie expressed the opinion that having regard to his experience in conducting license negotiations in the industry, and taking into account percentages that were agreed in other instances of sampling, a fair remuneration for the license to use the copyright in Kookaburra for the purpose of writing and exploiting Down Under negotiated on an arm's length basis between willing parties would have been a royalty in the order of between 25% and 50% of the total income of Down Under. ... 222. The 5% figure is the total percentage payable to Larrikin of the APRA/AMCOS income. 
  13. ^ "Kookaburra case: publisher hits back at Colin Hay's 'greed' claim", The Age, 5 February 2010
  14. ^ Steve Collins, Kookaburra v. Down Under: It's just overkill, Journal of media arts and culture, Vol 9 Number 1 June 2012

External links[edit]