18 Dec 2018

Pleas weak, costs too heavy: Nats win Eminem appeal but must pay $225k

1:33 pm on 18 December 2018

The National Party has won its bid to reduce the amount of damages it has to pay Eminem for copyright infringement over its 2014 election campaign advertisement.

Eminem has won a copyright case against the National Party

Eminem has won a copyright case against the National Party Photo: AFP

Last year the High Court found the music library track "Eminem-esque," which backed one of the party's election campaign videos, substantially copied the rapper's song 'Lose Yourself'.

The court ordered the National Party to pay $600,000 to Eight Mile Style, Eminem's music publisher, for the breach of copyright.

National went to the Court of Appeal to challenge that and in a judgment released today, the court quashed the original damages award and ordered the party to pay $225,000 instead.

At the appeal hearing in July, National's lawyer Greg Arthur questioned how the $600,000 figure was reached.

He told the Court of Appeal National would only have needed to pay for an 11-day licence to use the music and while the party preferred the "Eminem-esque" track, there were alternatives available.

"It could have chosen other production music which would have cost around $5000 or it could [have] commission[ed] music which would have been about $20,000."

The actual amounts involved in the case were suppressed by the High Court as they were commercially sensitive and they have not been referred to in the Court of Appeal.

Mr Arthur said one of the women who gave evidence at the trial about the amounts involved in music licensing deals referred to figures that were a significant percentage higher than any New Zealand deals, but admitted she had no knowledge of the local licensing landscape.

He said Justice Cull's decision was also influenced by evidence from Joel Martin about what the fee should be, but that should not have been given any weight as he was a manager of Eight Mile Style.

Mr Arthur said Justice Cull found there was 'intensive use' of the "Eminem-Esque" track during the 11 days the National Party election campaign ad aired.

"But there was no evidence about what was the usual 'intensiveness' of use.

"It was about 3 times a day per channel - I don't have evidence on whether that was intensive or not."

Mr Arthur said it appeared the judge made no allowance for anything that was favourable to the National Party.

Eight Mile Style's cross-appeal against the High Court's decision not to award additional damages was dismissed.

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