Eminem Copyright Battle With NZ Government Begins

Charges of copyright infringement laid by Eminem’s publishers against the New Zealand government began May 1 in Wellington High Court. 

Jack Plunkett / Invision / AP
– Eminem
Austin City Limits Music Festival, Zilker Park, Austin, TX

The six-day trial before Justice Helen Cull is over whether the ruling National Party infringed copyright by using a track that allegedly resembles Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” for its 2014 election campaign.

Detroit-based publishers Eight Mile Style LLC and Martin Affiliated LLC initiated action September 2014.

The National Party claimed it licensed its track, called “Eminesque,” from Australian production library Beatbox.

A classical track had also been mooted for the ad.

The NZ Herald reported that the publisher’s lawyer Gary Williams’ opening remarks stressed that the National Party infringed copyright just by authorising its use.

He said that the Oscar- and double-Grammy winning track was “an extremely valuable song” and, “despite many requests, it has only rarely been licensed for advertising purposes. When licensed, it can command in the millions of dollars. That’s how valuable it is.”

He presented evidence of an email where a National Party member had questioned if the two songs were similar. The reply email said the creator of the soundalike would be responsible for any legal action, not the party.

Both the Eminem track, complete with profanity, and the ad were played in court.

The NZ Herald also recounted that party lawyer Greg Arthur’s opening comments were that the party’s intention was never to infringe copyright and that if the track had not referenced the U.S. rapper, it would have been lost in Beatbox’s library.

“Copyright is not in any way proven by the name given to a piece of music,” he said.