25 Oct 2017

The verdict is in: ‘Eminem-esque’ was, in fact, not 'pretty legal'

3:55 pm on 25 October 2017



In a verdict that will shock and amaze many, the incredibly familiar music used in a 2014 National Party rowing-themed campaign advert was not, as Steven Joyce once reassured us, “pretty legal”.

Back in May, when the sonic squabble was put before Wellington’s High Court for copyright infringement, many patriots were, of course, aghast to think that the innocently titled track ‘Eminem-Esque’, could be compared to Eminem’s extremely valuable 'Lose Yourself'.

“How”, many true-blue New Zealanders were heard to query, “could this atmospheric little ditty possibly be compared to US rapper and Trump opponent Eminem’s seminal work 'Lose Yourself'?”

Reasonably easily, it turns out.

Months after a high profile trial saw lawyers, music aficionados, titillated journalists and more contrast and compare Eminem’s track to The Beatles' 'Twist and Shout', 'Kashmir' by Led Zeppelin, 'Total Control' by The Motels and something called 'La Bamba,' while debating the originality of a reasonable voice posing a rhetorical question, the verdict is in: ‘Eminem-Esque’ is a little bit more than just Eminem...esque.

Finding that though the original ‘Lose Yourself’ met the "low threshold of an original work" under the Copyright Act, the tune used in the National Party ad was proven to be substantially copied from the original parts of the track and therefore was actually pretty un-legal.  

Though the payout appraisal Em's publisher Eight Mile Style’s lawyer gave in court turned out to be a little optimistic ("The song 'Lose Yourself', is, without doubt, the jewel in the crown of Eminem's musical work. When licensed, it can command in the millions of dollars. That's how valuable it is.") the newly minted opposition party will still need to be digging deep in their piggy bank with the the court finding Eight Mile Style to be entitled to damages of $600,000, with interest, from 28 June 2014.

For a fun, exciting and enlightening read, check out the full judgement here.