Pretty legal? If Steven Joyce was wrong, things could turn ugly in Eminem copyright case?

Alf has every confidence in the outcome of the Eminem legal action against the National Party, which apparently will have its first day in court next week when lawyers for both sides meet to discuss process.

His constituents are well aware of the background, because it was a topic for discussion down at the Eketahuna Club just before the election.

That’s when some outfit based in Detroit, Eminem Publishers, announced it was suing National for alleged copyright infringement.

The company was arguing our original rowing-themed advertisement had a riff similar to that of Lose Yourself, the theme song for 8 Mile in which Eminem played a struggling rapper.

At that time the National Party responded by saying it believed it had correctly licensed the song from bodies which were established to represent the rights of artists in this part of the world.

But this Eminem mob are a persistent bunch, as we learned here at Stuff today:

Next Friday lawyers for both sides, and a number of parties linked to the case by the National Party, will meet in the High Court in Wellington.

Garry Williams, a commercial lawyer retained by Eminem’s publishers declined to comment beyond confirming that it was a matter of public record that a session to establish the timetable for the case would take place next week.

National Party secretary Greg Hamilton said the party would not comment beyond confirming its position had not changed.

“The National Party obviously disagrees with the action, and will defend our position as outlined in the media statement of 16 September 2014.”

Alf is confident of the outcome because of the involvement of his colleague and good friend, Steven Joyce, who was our campaign manger.

Never mind Steven’s inclination to fuck things up now and again and the shambles that has come of our deal with SkyCity about a conference centre and his chronic munificence in tossing science money around.

He memorably said (according to this earlier Stuff report):

“We think it’s pretty legal, we think these guys are just having a crack and have a bit of an eye for the main chance because it’s an election campaign.

“We’ve got all the licensing, we’ve told them that and made it clear again this afternoon. We also incidentally moved on from this song about two weeks ago at the same time they first started to raise questions,” Joyce said.

“I think they’re just trying to shake us down for some money before the election.”

Alf was greatly reassured by the opinion that it’s pretty legal.

And he is confident that Joyce would not have led us astray when he said the track was licensed with the distributors and publishers.

Joel Martin, speaking on behalf of the publishers back at that time, said they were not approached for permission to use any of Eminem’s songs for the ad.

“It is both disappointing and sadly ironic that the political party responsible for championing the rights of music publishers in New Zealand by the introduction of the three strikes copyright reforms should itself have so little regard for copyright.”

But if we listen to Steven – which Alf always does when the shit hits the fan – this is all huff and puff, and we should pay scant heed to Martin’s statement that Lose Yourself was “one of the most iconic copyrights in the world and the song’s publishers have rarely authorised its use to advertise products and have said that they would never allow it to be used in connection with any political campaign”.

Nor is Alf greatly toubled that National has got itself in trouble before for its choice of music.

In 2008 it was warned about a piece of music marking John Key’s first year as leader that sounded similar to Clocks by British group Coldplay.

Key had to order a recall of 20,000 DVDs featuring him in a video called Ambitious for New Zealand after Coldplay’s record company, EMI, warned National it was breaching copyright by using music similar to the smash hit Clocks.

National Party campaign manager Jo de Joux previously insisted the music had been commissioned from an Auckland artist and was original.

“We paid these guys to make a DVD for us. We relied on their expertise and they have let us down.”

Key said National should not have relied on Production Shed.

In 1984 Warner Bros threatened to sue the party for breach of copyright after the theme song for the Chariots of Fire soundtrack was used in an ad.

Alf recalls raising this track record with Steven.

We have learned from those mistakes, he said.

We are bound to have learned from the Mike Sabin thing, too. We are good learners.


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