Eminem Sues New Zealand’s Governing Party Over Lose Yourself
Rapper Eminem launched court action against New Zealand’s ruling political party on Monday, accusing it of using an unlicensed version of his hit Lose Yourself in a campaign advert.
Lawyers for the US artist told the High Court in Wellington that he never gave the National Party permission to use the song, which featured in the 2002 movie 8 Mile.
The 2014 advert featured shots of rowers and a voiceover urging people to “keep the team that’s working” and return the National Party to office at the coming election.
The backing track, Eminem-esque, was strikingly similar to Lose Yourself, which appeared in Eminem’s 2002 film 8 Mile.
It had the same insistent driving rhythm, though did not feature any words.
Garry Williams, the lawyer for Eminem’s music publishers Eight Mile Style and Martin Affiliated, told the High Court in Wellington that the National Party had wanted a song that was edgy and modern but showed the party was dependable. He said the music fared better with focus groups than a classical piece.
Williams said the Detroit rapper’s hit was “iconic”, having won an Academy Award, two Grammys and critical acclaim.
He said that meant rights to the work were “enormously valuable” and were strictly controlled by the publisher, which had rarely licensed them for advertising purposes.
Williams said the song, which topped the charts in 24 countries, dealt with “the idea of losing yourself in the moment and not missing opportunities in life”.
The National Party denies being responsible for any copyright infringement.
Defence lawyer Greg Arthur said copyright was “not in any way proven by the name given to a piece of music”.
National’s lawyers are set to argue the tune they used, “Eminem-esque”, was a generic track that was part of a library bought from production music supplier Beatbox.
They are expected to contend that any copyright infringement was accidental.
No details were immediately revealed of what damages Eminem was seeking.
The judge-only hearing is expected to continue for six days.