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Supreme Court Refuses Eminem Publisher’s Case Over Copyright Damages


The legal battle between Eminem’s publisher and New Zealand’s National Party will not go to the Supreme Court. While it is clear that the political party’s use of an Eminem knockoff track wasn’t permitted, the Court doesn’t believe the publisher’s appeal to increase the $225,000 damages award is warranted.

While Kim Dotcom remains embroiled in the largest copyright battle New Zealand has ever seen, the country’s National Party has been facing ‘infringement’ problems of its own.

In 2014 Eminem’s publisher took the National Party to court over alleged copyright infringement of the rapper’s track ‘Lose Yourself’ in an election campaign video.

At the time, the party was led by then Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key, who’s seen as Dotcom’s nemesis. In common with the Megaupload case, the dispute between the National Party and Eminem’s publisher continued to drag on.

The National Party didn’t simply use the track without paying for it. They actually sought professional advice before starting the campaign and licensed a track called Eminem Esque, which is the one they used in the ad.

The party hoped to avoid more expensive licensing fees by using the knock-off song, but the High Court previously ruled that the similarities between Lose Yourself and Eminem Esque are so significant that it breached copyright.

In 2017 the Court ordered the National Party to pay $600,000 for the copyright infringement, an amount neither side was satisfied with. In a subsequent ruling a year later, the Court of Appeal sided with the National Party, reducing the damages to $225,000.

Eminem’s publisher, Eight Mile Style, wasn’t pleased with the outcome and asked the Supreme Court to take it on.

During a hearing two weeks ago the publisher’s lawyer, Gary Williams, told the Court that the damages amount was too low. The rightsholders would have demanded a premium for the song, especially since it was used for political advertising, he argued before the court.

This week the New Zealand Supreme Court decided that it will not allow the appeal, Stuff reports. There is no doubt that the National Party’s use of the track was not permitted, but the Court doesn’t believe an extended legal fight over the damages amount is warranted.

“Given the concurrent findings of fact in the courts below rejecting the contention that the National Party turned a blind eye to the risk of infringement or was reckless, we do not see sufficient prospect of success in an argument that additional damages should have been awarded in this case to justify the grant of leave for a further appeal,” the Court wrote.

This effectively ends the legal battle after five years. The National Party will be happy to move on from this copyright infringement row. For Kim Dotcom, however, the battle continues.

For those wondering if the music used in the National Party’s ad campaign is indeed similar to the original Eminem track, a copy is available below.

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