25 October 2017Copyright

Eminem secures damages in battle with New Zealand political party

US rapper Eminem has secured NZ$600,000 ($412,896) in damages from New Zealand’s National Party after the political outfit ripped off his song “Lose Yourself”.

Today, October 25, the Wellington High Court handed down its decision, finding that the National Party had infringed Eminem’s copyright by using a song called “Eminem Esque” in a campaign video.

The video, which depicted a boat filled with people rowing together in an attempt to symbolise unity, was used in the party’s 2014 election campaign.

Between August 20 and 30, 2014, the advert was played 186 times on New Zealand television, according to the High Court.

Around August 27 that year, the National Party replaced the “Eminem Esque” track on its adverts with alternative music, and the song was aired from August 30.

In September 2014, Eminem’s representatives, Detroit-based Eight Mile Style and Martin Affiliated, sued the political group.

The National Party denied infringement and claimed the track had been bought from a stock music library.

The dispute was heard at the court in May this year, and today Justice Helen Cull issued her judgment.

Cull found that “it was no coincidence that the works sounded the same” and that the differences between the songs were minimal.

She added that an “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”.

“It is clear that ‘Eminem Esque’ incorporates the essential features of ‘Lose Yourself’,” said Cull, explaining that the party’s song substantially reproduces the essence of “Lose Yourself”.

The High Court awarded Eminem NZ$600,000 for copyright infringement, an amount Cull said was a reasonable licence fee for the use of “Lose Yourself”.

Although copyright infringement did occur, the National Party’s actions were taken after receiving professional, commercial and media advice, “and were not reckless or contumelious of the rights of the copyright owner”, added Cull.

No additional damages were awarded.

Adam Simpson, director of Simpsons Solicitors and representative of Eight Mile Style, said the decision is a warning to ‘sound alike’ music producers and their clients everywhere.

He added that the ruling “sets a major precedent” in New Zealand and that he expects it to be influential in Australia, the UK and elsewhere.

Simpson concluded: “‘Eminem Esque’ clearly stepped over the line. It copied the essential elements that made ‘Lose Yourself’ a global hit. It was calculated and intentional. Changing a few notes here and there just doesn’t cut it.”

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories like this sent straight to your inbox.

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at

More on this story

2 May 2017   A copyright infringement case involving Eminem and New Zealand’s governing party is being heard at the High Court of New Zealand this week.
16 September 2014   US rapper Eminem is suing the leading political party in New Zealand for allegedly using his hit song Lose Yourself in a campaign video.
4 April 2019   A vinyl manufacturer breached copyright by selling unlicensed vinyl copies of rapper Eminem’s debut album, the English High Court said on Tuesday, April 2.