Eminem's song Lose Yourself was a big hit when released in 2002. Chris Pizzello / AP Photo
Eminem's song Lose Yourself was a big hit when released in 2002. Chris Pizzello / AP Photo

Eminem lawsuit against New Zealand political party begins



WELLINGTON // They may not have lost themselves in the music or the moment but a judge and nine lawyers in a New Zealand courtroom did listen politely to Eminem's Lose Yourself as a copyright trial involving the country's ruling political party began on Monday.

The Detroit-based music publishers for Eminem are suing New Zealand’s conservative National Party, alleging the rapper’s acclaimed 2002 song was copied in the party’s soundtrack for a TV advert aired during its successful 2014 election campaign. Titled “Eminem Esque,” the track has the familiar urgent, pulsing beat of Eminem’s song.

The party has previously said it purchased the track through an Australian-based supplier and does not believe it has infringed anyone’s copyright.

In 2014, when the case was filed, member of parliament Steven Joyce said he thought the use of the song was "pretty legal", and that Eminem's team "are just having a crack and a bit of an eye for the main chance because it's an election campaign." That response was widely ridiculed, including by comedian John Oliver on his show Last Week Tonight.

“Pretty legal? That’s not a concept that exists. That’s like being sort-of dead,” Mr Oliver joked on the show.

Spokespeople for both Mr Joyce and the National Party said on Monday they would not be commenting while the case was before the court.

Garry Williams, the lawyer for Eminem’s music publishers Eight Mile Style and Martin Affiliated, told the High Court in Wellington that the National Party had wanted a song that was edgy and modern but showed the party was dependable. He said the music fared better with focus groups than a classical piece.

He quoted from National Party emails, including one in which the song is described as an Eminem “sound-alike” and another in which an agent for the party wrote “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 does not say we’re ripping him off?”

Mr Williams said the emails showed it was “utterly clear” the party knew it was using a copyrighted song.

Speaking outside the court, Joel Martin, a spokesman for Eminem’s music publishers, said he was surprised the two sides had not reached a settlement before the case began and that going to trial against an entity like a governing political party was unusual and extraordinary.

“The bottom line is we would never have permitted the use of the song in any political advertisement,” he said.

He said the political views of the National Party were not a factor: “We are Americans and we don’t know about politics in New Zealand,” he said.

The judge-only trial is expected to last about six days.

* Associated Press

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1971 Abu Dhabi National Oil Company established

1980 Ruwais Housing Complex built, located 10 kilometres away from industrial plants

1982 120,000 bpd capacity Ruwais refinery complex officially inaugurated by the founder of the UAE Sheikh Zayed

1984 Second phase of Ruwais Housing Complex built. Today the 7,000-unit complex houses some 24,000 people.  

1985 The refinery is expanded with the commissioning of a 27,000 b/d hydro cracker complex

2009 Plans announced to build $1.2 billion fertilizer plant in Ruwais, producing urea

2010 Adnoc awards $10bn contracts for expansion of Ruwais refinery, to double capacity from 415,000 bpd

2014 Ruwais 261-outlet shopping mall opens

2014 Production starts at newly expanded Ruwais refinery, providing jet fuel and diesel and allowing the UAE to be self-sufficient for petrol supplies

2014 Etihad Rail begins transportation of sulphur from Shah and Habshan to Ruwais for export

2017 Aldar Academies to operate Adnoc’s schools including in Ruwais from September. Eight schools operate in total within the housing complex.

2018 Adnoc announces plans to invest $3.1 billion on upgrading its Ruwais refinery 

2018 NMC Healthcare selected to manage operations of Ruwais Hospital

2018 Adnoc announces new downstream strategy at event in Abu Dhabi on May 13

Source: The National