You own it: New Zealand party told to pay for Eminem rip-off

Henrietta Brewer
October 25, 2017

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - In a case that pitted Eminem's publisher against New Zealand's main conservative political party, a judge said the party breached copyright by using a song similar to the Detroit rapper's "Lose Yourself" in its campaign ads.

The National Party was ridiculed back in 2014 when the case was first filed and lawmaker Steven Joyce defended using the song, an action he said was "pretty legal".

Cull noted that publisher Eight Mile Style rarely licenses the song, but stopped short of awarding additional damages, agreeing with defense lawyers that the National Party had received professional advice to use the song.

The High Court found that the ad's music "substantially reproduces the essence of 'Lose Yourself.'" If the actual sound wasn't enough of a giveaway, the track's name is "Eminem Esque". Publisher Eight Mile Style sued, saying the track ripped off the rapper's acclaimed 2002 hit.

"The close similarities and the indiscernible differences in drum beat, the "melodic line" and the piano figures, make Eminem Esque strikingly similar to Lose Yourself", Justice Helen Cull wrote in her final judgement. She said it sounded like a copy and was a copy.

Highlighting the irony in Eminem's own lyrics to "Lose Yourself", Cull said: "And prophetically so rapped Eminem: 'You better lose yourself in the music, the moment".

"The nature of the use is not what Eminem or Eight Mile Style would endorse", the judgment added.

Martin said he hadn't yet discussed the ruling with Eminem, aka Marshall Mathers III, but was glad the rapper hadn't been needed to travel to New Zealand "to watch the paint dry in the court room".

National Party President Peter Goodfellow maintained that his organization had not done anything illegal.

"We already have a claim against the suppliers and licensors of the track".

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