Eminem NZ Court Case Date Set

Eminem’s copyright infringement lawsuit against New Zealand’s governing National Party will be heard in court next week.

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Music Midtown Festival, Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Ga.

The rapper’s Detroit-based publishing company, Eight Mile Style, alleges that the National Party used a riff similar to his Grammy- and Oscar-winning track “Lose Yourself” in its 2014 “Keep The Team That’s Working” election campaign ads without clearance.

The National Party has always maintained that it got clearance from Australian production outfit Beatbox and that its use was “pretty legal.”

Campaign manager Steven Joyce said when the case was filed last September, “We think these guys are just having a crack and have a bit of an eye for the main chance because it’s an election campaign.”

The case will be heard at the High Court at Wellington Feb.20. Joel Martin, for Eight Mile Style LLC and Martin Affiliated LLC, said in September, “It is both disappointing and sadly ironic that the political party responsible for championing the rights of music publishers in New Zealand by the introduction of the 3 strikes copyright reforms should itself have so little regard for copyright.”

He emphasized, “Eminem’s publishers were not approached for permission to use any of Eminem’s songs for this campaign advertisement.”

Kirsten Zemke of the New Zealand Musicology Society said the case would probably center around whether a backing track can be copyrighted. Zemke told TVNZ’s Breakfast show (Feb 13), “Traditionally in Western music all you’re copyrighting is the lyrics and the tune — the melody. What we have here is not the melody, the chorus. It’s the backing bass part of the song. And so that’s a lot harder to prove. That would be like copyrighting a strum. Or a reggae beat.”