California Intellectual Property Blog


Eminem Wins Copyright Lawsuit Against New Zealand Political Party

Los Angeles – A judge recently held that a New Zealand political party infringed on Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” copyright when it used a song that sounded very similar to Eminem’s hit. The song was used in a 2014 election advertisement. The judge awarded Eminem’s publishing company $415,000 after deciding that the song the National Party purchased from a stock music library was substantially similar to Eminem’s song.

The infringing song’s title is labeled as “Eminem-esque” which likely did not help the defendant. “Lose Yourself” received the 2003 Academy Award for Best Original Song and is one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All-Time.

The advertisement for National Party Candidate Steven Joyce aired more than 100 times and the songs publisher, Eight Mile Style, was awarded damages plus interest from June 28th, 2014. Additional damages were not granted because the court ruled that the New Zealand political party did not act irresponsible by using the song and did make an attempt to seek out professional, commercial, and media advice.

The National Party purchased the song they used in their advertisement from a company called Beatbox which secured its license from music library Labrador. The New Zealand political party is considering taking action against the supplier and licensors. Copyright lawyers representing Eight Mile Style want to use this outcome as a public service announcement and a warning to sound-alike music producers and clients worldwide.

A representative for Eminem stated that he played no role in the court case, but any monetary settlement he receives from the case will be donated to hurricane relief and he encourages the publishing company to do the same.

In The New Zealand Herald it was reported that some of the National Party members were aware of the two songs’ similarities. One email that was revealed in trial was a member questioning how they can be confident they aren’t ripping Eminem off. The email states as follows, “I guess the question we’re asking, if everyone thinks it’s Eminem, and it’s listed as ‘Eminem-esque,’ how can we be confident that Eminem doesn’t say we’re ripping him off?”

The hearing that launched in May has become the laughing stock for late-night hosts and TV commentary as it is out of the ordinary for solemn lawyers to be analyzing “Lose Yourself” at full volume. Judge Hull also points out the lyrics to “Lose Yourself” have a sense of irony in the context of these proceedings. Eminem rapped, “You better lose yourself in the music, the moment, you own it, you better never let it go.”


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