A New Zealand judge ruled that the National Party breached the copyright from Eminem’s Lose Yourself when it used a substantially similar track in its election advertisements. Now before you try to figure out how the Party worked “mom’s spaghetti” into its campaign ad, let me specify that they breached the musical composition from the hit song, and not the sound recording.
The National Party’s defense rested on the fact that it did not actually use the musical composition of Lose Yourself, but instead used a track called “Eminem Esque”. Additionally, when the lawsuit was filed, a senior cabinet minister said the National Party’s use of the song was “pretty legal”.
Besides having the most incriminating name possible, the court found that the track “substantially reproduces the essence of Lose Yourself” and was not legal at all. Based on the minimal technical differences of the drum beat, melodic line, piano figures, and the objectively similar hearing test, “Eminem Esque” is a copy of Lose Yourself. Additionally, the name of the composition reinforces the casual connection between the two works.
The judge calculated the damages based on what the license fee would have been, if the Party had received permission for the work for a grand total of NZ$600,000. No additional damages were awarded because the infringement was not reckless. Eminem has stated that he intends to donate any damages he receives to hurricane relief.
So, as it turns out, the use was not “pretty legal” and the National Party ended up losing, itself.