Eight Mile Style v New Zealand National Party judgement

Monday, 30 Oct 2017

In the recent Eight Mile Style v New Zealand National Party case, the High Court of New Zealand found that the piece of production music Eminem-Esque does infringe copyright in the Eminem work Lose Yourself. AMCOS has not licensed Eminem-Esque since it was first notified of this dispute in 2014. This judgment is an important first step towards the resolution of this unfortunate matter and all of the defendants are closely considering the implications of the decision.

It is important for AMCOS clients to understand that an AMCOS production music licence only grants the rights to use the particular licensed piece of production music for the permitted purposes. However, AMCOS can never provide a 100% guarantee that a piece of production music (or indeed any musical work) does not infringe copyright in other third party works.

AMCOS has over 2.5 million works in its constantly growing repertoire and has no involvement in the creation of those works. It would be practically impossible for AMCOS to assess and verify whether or not every work in its repertoire infringes copyright in another. Making this sort of assessment is a complex legal task which can involve musicologists and numerous other experts advice. Instead, AMCOS obtains and relies on warranties and indemnities from its members that all the production music that we license on their behalf does not infringe the copyright in any other creator’s works.

Clients can also take comfort from the fact that we license thousands of pieces of music (both from production music libraries and other catalogues) every year without any problem whatsoever. Court cases like this are highly unusual, they hardly ever occur. And even in the rare instances when disputes between copyright owners such as this do arise, they are almost always quickly and sensibly resolved between the copyright owners, without having to involve the client in the dispute.

Our strong recommendation to clients is that if they wish to use a piece of production music that sounds similar to an existing third party musical work, then they should obtain their own independent legal advice as to the risk of infringing copyright in that that third party work prior to doing so.

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