- This is the end of the (legal) road for Eminem’s publishing companies, as the Supreme Court denied their appeal.
- The case was ongoing since 2014, concerning a copyright infringement by one of the National Party’s ads.
- The first court ordered a damage compensation of $600k, while the court of appeals reduced it to $225k.
The Supreme Court of New Zealand has just rejected an appeal that was submitted by two publishing companies (Eight Mile Style and Martin Affiliated) who represent Eminem’s interests. The two US companies sued the National Party of New Zealand back in 2014 for copyright infringement. The party used a rip-off version of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” rap song, called “Eminem Esque”, in an apparent attempt to avoid paying large amounts of money less for licensing fees. For the Eminem Esque, the party paid only $4800 to the creator Michael Cohen. The publishers would have asked something in the millions, considering the intention to use it in political advertising. The resemblance between the two songs led to a decision by the High Court that ordered the National Party to pay $600k in damages.
Neither Eminem’s publishers nor the National party were happy with this decision, as one thought it was way too low, and the other found it excessive. After a series of appeals from both sides, the Court of Appeal reduced the damage compensation down to $225k, which obviously infuriated the publishing companies who were now set to receive even less than before. The next step to take was to knock the door of the Supreme Court of New Zealand, but this proved to be another case of false hope for the publishers, as the court decided not to accept the case at all.
As the court points out in their reasoning: “Given the concurrent findings of fact in the courts below rejecting the contention that the National Party turned a blind eye to the risk of infringement or was reckless, we do not see sufficient prospect of success in an argument that additional damages should have been awarded in this case to justify the grant of leave for a further appeal.”
This signifies the end of this five-year legal battle, and the lawyers of the publishers would now love to be able to go back in time and grab that $600k if they could. Still though, based on the fact that the National Party would still appeal the decisions, that alternative outcome scenario would not be guaranteed.