Judge not scared of loud mu­sic

Detroit rap­per su­ing po­lit­i­cal party

Cape Breton Post - - Arts/Entertainment - AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Turn up the vol­ume, the judge told the lawyers in a case in­volv­ing an Eminem song: “I’m not shy of loud mu­sic.”

It was one of many in­con­gru­ous mo­ments dur­ing a two-week trial that ended Friday at the High Court in Welling­ton. The judge may not rule for months in the case in which mu­sic pub­lish­ers for the Detroit rap­per are su­ing New Zealand’s rul­ing con­ser­va­tive po­lit­i­cal party for copy­right in­fringe­ment.

The judge and pha­lanx of gowned lawyers lis­tened stu­diously to plenty of pro­fan­ity­laced rap. They also lis­tened for sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween such clas­sic songs as “La Bamba” and “Twist and Shout.”

At is­sue is the Na­tional Party’s use of the song “Eminem Es­que” in a 2014 tele­vi­sion cam­paign ad that was run 186 times be­fore it was pulled off the air. Eminem’s pub­lish­ers Eight Mile Style say the track is a rip-off of the rap­per’s ac­claimed 2002 song “Lose Your­self,” while the party says

the song was in­spired by the rap­per’s hit but is dif­fer­ent.

Na­tional Party lawyer Greg Arthur said there wasn’t much orig­i­nal­ity in the mu­sic be­hind “Lose Your­self” and the in­dus­try prac­tice of mak­ing so-called “sound-alike” songs that were dif­fer­ent enough to avoid copy­right is­sues was well-es­tab­lished.

But Judge He­len Cull made some pointed ob­ser­va­tions dur­ing Arthur’s sum­ming up. She said when the two songs were over­laid, they kept the same beat and pat­tern, and sounded al­most “con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous.”

“It doesn’t make it le­git­i­mate be­cause some­body hasn’t yet sued,” the judge said. “It’s a ques­tion of whether it is so alike that a sound-alike is cross­ing the line and be­comes copy­right in­fringe­ment.”

Arthur replied that some songs might cross the line but that didn’t make the en­tire sound-alike in­dus­try il­le­git­i­mate. And he said that us­ing the ti­tle “Eminem Es­que” shouldn’t be a fac­tor to con­sider.

“It’s a lit­tle clue, though, isn’t it?” Cull re­sponded. She ap­peared to pay close at­ten­tion to the mu­sic, at one point telling the lawyers they could make it louder the fol­low­ing day.

Dur­ing the case, two mu­si­col­o­gists gave dif­fer­ing opin­ions on whether the song used in the ad was a copy.

The cam­paign man­ager for the Na­tional Party said she’d 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.

But Eight Mile Style lawyer Garry Wil­liams said it was “ut­terly clear” the party knew it was in­fring­ing upon a copy­righted song.

Another un­usual mo­ment in the case came when Jeff Bass, the Detroit-area com­poser of the open­ing gui­tar riff in “Lose Your­self,” picked up an acous­tic gui­tar and played the riff for the court.


In this April 15, 2012, file photo, Eminem per­forms at the 2012 Coachella Val­ley Mu­sic and Arts Fes­ti­val in In­dio, Calif.

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