The campaign manager for New Zealand's National Party said Wednesday she raised concerns during the 2014 election about using a song that sounded similar to Eminem's "Lose Yourself" but was told by industry experts it would be fine.
Jo de Joux told the High Court in Wellington she was concerned that using the song "Eminem Esque" raised copyright issues for the party, and she was also worried that Eminem had been associated with hate speech.
Eminem's music publishers Eight Mile Style are suing the conservative political party for copyright infringement after it used the song in TV ads.
De Joux said she sought and received assurances from music and advertising experts that using "Eminem Esque" would be acceptable because it was part of a licensed music library and was free from any copyright issues.
She said focus groups favored the song and the campaign ad was run 186 times before it was pulled in August 2014. She said she'd fielded complaints in a previous campaign about the use of a Coldplay song.
"I was therefore adamant that the party did not want to have to deal with any such complaints during the 2014 campaign," she said. "I needed absolute reassurance that the track could be legitimately used by the party before I was willing to recommend that we proceed."
Under cross-examination, de Joux said she had not sought legal advice on using the song nor approached Eminem's representatives to get approval.
De Joux was the first defense witness in the judge-only case that began Monday and is expected to last about six days.
Her testimony came a day after composer Jeff Bass called "Eminem Esque" a "blatant rip-off" of "Lose Yourself." Bass, who lives near Detroit, co-wrote the Oscar-winning 2002 song with Eminem and Luis Resto.
The publishers are seeking both a cash settlement for an undisclosed amount and an acknowledgement by the court that the National Party breached copyright.
The defense argues that while the songs are similar, they aren't the same and therefore the party never breached copyright.