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Eminem’s song-theft case against New Zealand’s governing party wraps up

By | Published on Monday 15 May 2017


The court battle between Eminem and New Zealand’s governing National Party has concluded, though it could be months before we get a ruling from the judge.

As previously reported, in 2014 the political party used a piece of library music called ‘Eminem-esque’ in an election campaign ad. The party argued that it had properly licensed the music, which sounded rather like the rapper’s hit ‘Lose Yourself’, via a production music company.

In court, legal reps for Eminem’s publishing companies presented email exchanges between the National Party and its campaign reps in which the strong similarities between ‘Eminem-esque’ and ‘Lose Yourself’ were noted, with one agent concluding that the political organisation risked being accused by Eminem of having ripped off his music.

This, Slim Shady’s lawyers argued, was evidence that the National Party was aware that ‘Eminem-esque’ was so Eminem-esque it constituted copyright infringement.

A lawyer for the National Party countered that there wasn’t all that much originality in the core composition of ‘Lose Yourself’, and that the creation and use of ‘sound-alike’ tracks that sound very similar to hit records, but not so similar to a constitute copyright breach, was common practice in the production music business.

The political group had also pointed out that other people had licensed and used ‘Eminem-esque’ from the same Australian production music agency without any resulting litigation.

However, according to CBS News, the judge hearing the case didn’t seem to accept that line of argument, saying during the hearing that “it doesn’t make it legitimate because somebody hasn’t yet sued – it’s a question of whether it is so alike that a sound-alike is crossing the line and becomes copyright infringement”.

The judge could now take up to three months to rule on the case.