14 May 2019

Eminem publisher loses appeal for higher damages

5:10 pm on 14 May 2019

The Supreme Court has refused a further appeal for the rapper Eminem's music publisher, Eight Mile Style, which was seeking higher damages from the National Party over a breach of copyright.

Eminem's Wellington concert last night drew a record crowd of more than 46,000 to Westpac Stadium.

Eminem in Wellington. Photo: Jeremy Deputat

The music publisher sued after the National Party used a song similar to the rapper's Lose Yourself in its 2014 election campaign.

National obtained the track, Eminem-esque from a music library and the ad in which it was used played over 11 days with 186 TV viewings and was also uploaded onto the internet.

In 2017 the High Court upheld the breach of copyright and ordered National to pay $600,000 to the music publisher, based on how much Eight Mile Style might have charged for use of the music, had there been a willing negotiation.

However last year both parties went to the Court of Appeal, where the National Party appealed against the amount of damages it had been ordered to pay and Eight Mile Style cross-appealed against the High Court Judge's refusal to award additional damages based on "the flagrancy of [National's] infringement".

That court allowed National's appeal and reduced the damages amount to $225,000, but it dismissed the cross-appeal.

Earlier this month the music publisher's lawyer told the Supreme Court the lower Courts had made several errors, including being too restrictive regarding an award of additional damages.

However the Supreme Court has ruled against hearing a further appeal in the case.

"We accept that the approach to the consideration of claims under s121(2) may be a matter of public importance or general commercial significance.

"But we are not satisfied that the present case is an appropriate vehicle for the consideration of the issue by this court.

"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."

It has ordered the music publisher to pay the National Pary $4,500 costs.