New Zealand's High Court on Wednesday found that the conservative National Party breached copyright in a 2014 election campaign advertisement, and ordered it to pay $414,000 (NZ$600,000) plus interest in damages. The court ruling comes less than a week after National was ousted from government in the latest election.
"This decision is a warning to 'sound alike' music producers and their clients everywhere," said Adam Simpson, director of Simpsons Solicitors, who acted for Eminem's music company Eight Mile Style. "The ruling clarifies and confirms the rights of artists and songwriters. It sets a major precedent in New Zealand and will be influential in Australia, the U.K. and elsewhere."
National said it believed it had purchased the music, titled "Eminem Esque," legally as it came from a reputable Australian-based music production library and was licensed with the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society. But the High Court said the sound-alike track "substantially copied" Lose Yourself and the differences between the two were minimal. The National Party committed three restricted acts amounting to copyright infringement, the court said.
"National is disappointed with today's High Court decision," Party President Peter Goodfellow said in a statement. "The Party is now considering the implications of the judgment and the next steps. We already have a claim against the suppliers and licensors of the track."
Eight Mile Style said in a statement it was "incredible that the National Party went to such great lengths to avoid responsibility for using a weak rip-off of Lose Yourself."
"They knew we would not have permitted the use of the song in their political advertisement, however they proceeded at their own risk and blamed others for their infringement," the company said.