Eminem wins himself $600,000 from New Zealand political party over copyright infringement
National Party ordered to pay after judge rules Eminem Esque is too similar to rapper’s 2002 hit Lose Yourself
US rapper Eminem has been awarded NZ$600,000 (£315,000) from a New Zealand political party over copyright infringement.
In a ruling yesterday, a High Court judge ordered the National Party to pay the rapper after it used a song with a melody and rhythm similar to his hit Lose Yourself in a 2014 election ad.
The song, titled Eminem Esque, was played 186 times on TV before it was pulled.
Lose Yourself, which appeared in the 2002 film 8 Mile, is one of the Detroit rapper’s biggest hits and became the first track by a hip hop artist to win the Best Original Song Oscar.
National Party lawyers claimed Eminem Esque had been bought from a stock music library made by the production music company Beatbox and was not Lose Yourself, the BBC says.
They also questioned the “inherent originality” of Lose Yourself, arguing it borrowed from other genres and the sections they “copied” were actually “too generic” to infringe copyright laws.
However, the High Court ruled it wasn’t sufficiently different from the original song and that party’s use of it was therefore copyright infringement.
“The judgment weighed up the drum patterns, background chords and violin tones of both tracks, all of which were said to have ‘close similarities’”, the London Evening Standard says.
The case led to unusual scenes at the courtroom, as lawyers in gowns repeatedly listened to the explicit song, ending with High Court Judge Helen Cull citing the lyrics: “You own it, you better never let it go,” as especially distinctive.
“[The party’s lawyers] could have said anything but question its originality,” Joel Martin, one of Eminem’s music publishers told the AP.
He added that he was relieved the rapper, real name Marshall Bruce Mathers III, did not have to travel to New Zealand for the trial.