Eminem vs National Party trial: Eight Mile Style awarded damages

Not only has the National Party lost out to Labour, they've also now lost to rapper Eminem.

A court has ruled against National in a copyright stoush over music used in a 2014 election campaign advertisement.

Eight Mile Style claimed a track called 'Eminem Esque' used by National was a rip-off of Eminem's hit 'Lose Yourself'.

The production company have been awarded damages of $600,000 with interest after suing National.

In her judgment released today, Justice Helen Cull said that 'Eminem Esque' was a copy of 'Lose Yourself' for three reasons.

First, Justice Cull determined there are "minimal differences" between 'Lose Yourself' and 'Eminimem Esque' and the latter "substantially reproduces the essence of Lose Yourself".

Second, Justice Cull found 'Eminem Esque' "sounds like a copy and is a copy of Lose Yourself" and "was designed to 'sound like' Eminem and 'Lose Yourself' as production music and a sound-alike track."

Finally, Justice Cull found "It was no coincidence that the works sounded the same and the undeniable inference to be drawn from the evidence is that the composer of Eminem Esque had 'Lose Yourself' in front of him at the time of composition."

The Court found the National Party committed three acts of copyright infringement: communicating a copy of 'Lose Yourself' to the public without licence, authorising the copying of 'Lose Yourself', and authorising the use and/or deployment of the relevant advertisements and opening broadcast.

Justice Cull said although copyright infringement did occur, the National Party "were not reckless or contumelious of the rights of the copyright owner" and its actions were taken after receiving professional advice. 

The $600,000 damages fee was determined according to the hypothetical licence fee that would have been charged for permission to use 'Lose Yourself' in National's campaign advertising.

The Court considered that Eight Mile Style have retained "exclusive control of licensing and rarely grant permission to use 'Lose Yourself' in advertising", and the song was used for a political purpose in an unassociated country "which is not what Eminem or Eight Mile Style would endorse".

The song was used over 11 days with 186 television viewings, it was also uploaded to the internet, and the National party "wanted the sound of 'Lose Yourself' or an equivalent".

When Eminem's team first objected to the use of the song, National's then campaign chair Steven Joyce famously defended the music's use as being "pretty legal".

During the trial National deflected responsibility, saying it had paid almost $5,000 to license 'Eminem Esque' and relied on assurances from others including from company Stan3, which produced the advertisement.

However, Eminem's team said it was disingenuous to argue an Oscar and Grammy-winning song is unoriginal.

National Party "disappointed" by High Court decision:

National Party President Peter Goodfellow said the party is "disappointed" with the High Court Decision that its 2014 campaign video breached copyright of Eminem's song 'Lose Yourself'.

"However, the High Court found that before using the track the Party took extensive advice and sought assurances from industry professionals that the track could be used by the Party," Mr Goodfellow said in a statement.

"The judgment has also found that the Party in using the track did not act flagrantly or in a manner which justifies the Party being further punished."

Mr Goodfellow said the National Party believed the purchase of 'Eminem Esque' was legal and it will now consider the implications of the judgement and how to proceed.

"We already have a claim against the suppliers and licensors of the track," he said.

This is breaking news - more to come.