New Zealand Party Wins Appeal Over Damages for Using a Clone of Eminem's 'Lose Yourself'


Eminem performs at the 2018 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival on June 9, 2018 in Manchester, Tenn.

New Zealand's National Party has won an appeals court ruling over the amount it has to pay Eminem's publisher for breaching copyright when it used a clone of the Detroit rapper's "Lose Yourself" in a 2014 campaign commercial. The party, which has since fallen out of power, was previously ordered to compensate the publisher, Eight Mile Style, $600,000 NZD ($415,000 USD).

In a new decision released Tuesday, the Court of Appeal ruled that those damages should be reduced down to $225,000 NZD ($154,000 USD). Party lawyers had argued in their appeal that the original damages were determined by a judge's expert who had no relevant experience in setting such figures. Other factors, including the short runtime of the ad -- 186 times in 11 days in a nation of only 4.8 million -- were also taken into account.

"The advertising message was only relevant to a relatively small population," an Appeals Court summary stated, "and the minimum baseline concept negated proper consideration of a territory-related licence."

The campaign ad in question featured a song called "Eminem Esque," which reproduced the "essence" and syncopated beat of "Lose Yourself." The party said it purchased the music from an Australian company that had acquired it from a U.S. supplier. The television ad ran 186 times before being pulled off the air.

The case garnered international attention when in 2014, National Party lawmaker Steven Joyce defended using the song, calling it "pretty legal." "Pretty legal? That's not a concept that exists. That's like being sort-of dead," John Oliver later joked on HBO's "Last Week Tonight."

Watch a comparison of "Eminem Esque" and "Lose Yourself":