Men At Work's iconic Eighties hit "Down Under" is at center stage of a copyright row in Australia. Sydney-based music publishing firm Larrikin Music has lodged a statement of claim, noting that the international smash carries an unlicensed cut from an enduring children's nursery rhyme, "Kookaburra," which it represents.

Norm Lurie, managing director of Larrikin, attests that the flute riff in Men At Work's hit is lifted from "Kookaburra," a song written in the 1930s by Marion Sinclair, a music teacher at Melbourne's Toorak College, and a long supporter of the Girl Guide movement which has embraced the song as a anthem.

Larrikin, a division of the U.K.'s Music Sales Group, 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.

"We are seeking a percentage of the song, and we think not unreasonably," Lurie tells Billboard.biz. "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."

A Sony BMG spokesman says the company's view "is, and remains, that this is properly a dispute between two rival music publishers, Larrikin and EMI Music Publishing." The spokesman continues "Sony BMG has at all times fulfilled all its obligations under the relevant industry agreements."

Lurie launched proceedings 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."

"I wasn't watching that night, one of the few nights I missed it," he notes. "My emails and phone lit up the next day with people advising me of that. That was the first I knew of [the connection]."

A mediation session has been convened for Nov. 7. If a resolution isn't found, then the Federal Court may come into play.

Men At Work became members of an elite circle of artists when in 1982 they secured simultaneous No. 1 singles and albums in the U.S. and U.K. with "Down Under" and "Business As Usual" respectively. The song is also synonymous with Australia's successful bid to win the America's Cup yacht race the following year, and was performed at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games closing ceremony.