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Eminem publishers say NZ$600,000 damages over New Zealand political ad should be higher

By | Published on Wednesday 4 July 2018


Eminem’s publishers reckon that New Zealand’s National Party should pay more than NZ$600,000 in damages for using the rapper’s ‘Lose Yourself’ composition in a campaign advert without permission. The political party reckons that $600,000 is way too much already and wants the damages cut.

Eminem’s publishing company went legal, of course, after the National Party used music that sounded really rather like ‘Lose Yourself’ in a 2014 election campaign commercial. The political types insisted that they had licensed the track they used from a library music company so everything was above board.

But the library music track was called ‘Eminem-esque’ and – when the matter got to court last year – the judge hearing the case ruled that it was sufficiently Eminem-esque to constitute copyright infringement. Therefore the National Party’s deal with a library music firm was irrelevant, it had still used copyright infringing music in its ad.

Since that ruling last October, the National Party has been fighting to get the NZ$600,000 damages cut down to size. Its legal reps argue that the party acted in good faith when licensing the library music track. Plus, had it known it also needed a licence from Eminem’s companies, there is no way it would have gone ahead with using the music in its ad if the cost of that licence had been anywhere near the NZ$600,000 figure.

But legal reps from the Eminem side argue that that’s all irrelevant, not least because there’s no way they would have licensed ‘Lose Yourself’ to the National Party for a political ad whatever fee had been offered.

As proof, they reference how they once refused to do a deal when approached about licensing the track for another political ad. Had the National Party likewise approached them for a licence, they say, they’d have immediately knocked them back. With that in mind, says Team Eminem, the damages should be higher.

All these arguments were presented in New Zealand’s court of appeal yesterday. Judges in that court will now consider whether the NZ$600,000 damages figure is appropriate.