Australian band Men At Work will not be allowed to make a final appeal against a ruling which found they partly copied 1983 hit Down Under from a folk song.
The High Court of Australia denied a final bid to quash a July 2010 ruling that a flute line from Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree was copied.
They had been ordered to pay 5% of song earnings since 2002, as well as future royalties, to the copyright owners.
Australia’s Federal Court upheld the decision at an appeal in March.
Publishers Larrikin Music bought the rights to the classic Kookaburra folk song in 1990, following the death of its composer Marion Sinclair two years earlier.
It had sought 60% of royalties from chart-topping track Down Under, the story of a backpacker touring the world which famously makes references to Vegemite sandwiches and “chunder”.
The song, co-written by the band’s Colin Hay and Ron Strykert, reached number one in Australia, the US and the UK.
They have said any reference to Sinclair’s song was “inadvertent, naive, unconscious”.
Record label EMI had argued the writers did not plagiarise because the inclusion of two bars from the tune was a tribute.
Mark Bamford, a lawyer for EMI, said the High Court’s decision was disappointing.