Eminem's Legal Battle Against New Zealand Political Party Spills Into U.S. Court

A track known as "Eminem esque," used in political ads, allegedly sources to a California company.
Scott Legato/Getty

When New Zealand's National Party used in a television ad campaign a song that sounded much like Eminem's 2002 hit "Lose Yourself," it got sued. Earlier this year, a High Court in New Zealand held a two-week trial where Eminem's music publisher aimed to demonstrate the political party's ad campaign amounted to a copyright infringement. The outcome is still in limbo, but in the meantime, two companies are now engaged in a separate fight over responsibility for the hefty legal costs associated with what happened.

Beatbox Music Pty is suing Labrador Entertainment, doing business as Spider Cues Music Library.

Spider Cues, according to its website, has licensed musical cues for a wide range of television shows, commercials feature films including The Incredible Hulk, Cinderella Man, The Bourne Supremacy and more.

According to the complaint, Beatbox became a sub-publisher for its licensed territory pursuant to a 2009 agreement. The defendants allegedly represented and warranted that all musical compositions provided were "exclusive and original work."

The parties are said to have had discussions about issues that arose from changes to the library.

"Labrador failed to direct Beatbox to remove any music tracks found in the existing Music Library (which had already been circulated to clients) which, on information and belief, Labrador knew or had reason to know that such tracks allegedly potentially infringed the rights of third parties," states the complaint.

Apparently, one of the tracks was titled "Eminem esque," which was then used by the National Party in its ad campaign.

That triggered a $1.5 million copyright claim from Eminem and his publishing entities.

According to the lawsuit, the Australian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society then began deducting from Beatbox's royalty payments to account for its legal fees in relation to the Eminem case. AMCOS deducted $231,221.33 even after settling with Eminem's company for $70,686, states the complaint.

As for Beatbox, it says it has incurred $320,367 in legal fees related to the Eminem lawsuit.

Beatbox expects indemnification and is going to court to get it. The company is also claiming breach of contract and breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

Spider Cues hasn't yet responded to our inquiry.

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