Eight Mile Style v New Zealand National Party

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Eight Mile Style vs New Zealand National Party
Coat of arms of New Zealand.svg
CourtHigh Court of New Zealand at Wellington
Decided25 October 2017 (2017-10-25)
Citation(s)[2017] NZHC 2603
Court membership
Judge sittingHelen Cull

A controversy was caused in New Zealand in 2014 when the National Party used sound-alike music to the song "Lose Yourself" by American rapper Eminem in a campaign advertisement during that year's election. The Wellington High Court ruled against the National Party, ordering them to pay over $600,000 for copyright infringement. This was partially overturned by the Court of Appeal of New Zealand, which reduced the damages to $225,000.


On 16 September 2016, Eminem's publishers filed a lawsuit with the High Court in Wellington, claiming that the National Party , its advertising agency and others involved in creating and licensing the track had made a copyright infringement from using an instrumental version of the song "Lose Yourself" in television advertisements without their consent. Their campaign manager Steven Joyce stated their using of the song was "pretty legal", claiming it had been purchased from an Australian music library.[1][2] The publishers counter-claimed that they never allowed the song to be used in a political advert. They have persisted with the lawsuit and a trial began at the Wellington High Court on 1 May 2017.[3] The case concluded on 12 May 2017; Justice Helen Cull reserved her decision.[4] On 25 October, the High Court ruled that the National Party and its co defendants ( Stan3 Ltd, Sale St Studios Ltd, Amcos NZ Ltd, Australasian Mechanical Copywright Owners Society Ltd, Beatbox Music Pty Ltd, Labrador Entertainment Inc and the sound alike musics creator Michael Alan Cohen )[5] had breached copyright and ordered them to pay $600,000 plus interest.[6]


Eight Mile Style spokesman Joel Martin said the company was happy with the result following a "distasteful" trial for them, while National Party president Peter Goodfellow said the party was disappointed with the final verdict and would proceed themselves to pursue legal action against Labrador and Beatbox, who supplied them the music.[7] Eminem told Variety that he was not consulted about the case, but should he receive any money from it he would donate it to charity for the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.[8] Musician and former APRA director Mike Chunn said that sound-alike recordings are routinely used in advertising and that the ruling was unfair.[9]

The National Party appealed the ruling on grounds that copyright wasn't breached and if it was, the damages should have been lower. There was a cross-appeal from US companies Eight Mile Style and Martin Affiliated sought to have the damages to be increased.[10] The Court of Appeal of New Zealand upheld the National Party's appeal on damages only and reduced the amount of the damages to $225,000.[11]


  1. ^ "Eminem suing New Zealand's National party for allegedly using his song". The Guardian. 16 September 2014. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  2. ^ Papatsoumas, Nikki (16 September 2014). "National Party sued over Eminem copyright infringment". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  3. ^ "Court date set for Eminem vs New Zealand National Party". Yahoo News. 8 September 2016. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
  4. ^ It's a rap: Eminem lawsuit against New Zealand party ends New Zealand Herald, 12 May 2017
  5. ^ "Courts of New Zealand Judgements" (PDF).
  6. ^ "National Party loses copyright case over use of Eminem-esque, ordered to pay $600k". Stuff.co.nz. 2017-10-25.
  7. ^ "National Party 'insulting' in action over Eminem copyright". The New Zealand Herald. 26 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  8. ^ "Eminem to donate legal win money to charity". Radio New Zealand. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Music rights specialist backs National over 'Eminem Esque'". Radio New Zealand. 27 October 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Appeal grounds revealed in Eminem copyright case against National Party". Stuff.co.nz. 21 December 2017. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  11. ^ National Party v Eight Mile Style - damages reduced, Scoop, 18 December 2018