The rapper’s legal counsel told the Wellington High Court that he never gave the National Party permission to use his song. The song was used in a campaign advertisement during the country’s 2014 elections.
The song not only won the American artist critical acclaim, but also an Academy Award and two Grammys. It featured in the 2002 hit movie, 8 Mile, which starred the rapper.
Barrister Garry Williams, representing the artist, said that the song topped the charts in 24 countries, and appealed to so many because it dealt with the “idea of losing yourself in the moment and not missing opportunities in life.”
He said, as a result, rights to the work were “enormously valuable” and strictly controlled by the publisher. The publisher rarely licensed the work for advertising purposes.
Lawyers for the National Party acknowledged that the tune was “Eminem-esque”, but said that it was sourced from a library bought from production music supplier Beatbox. They will be arguing that any copyright infringement was accidental.
The party’s campaign director, Steven Joyce, dismissed the claim when it emerged in 2014, saying, “We think it’s pretty legal, I think these guys are just having a crack.”
The hearing, which will be heard by a judge only, is expected to last six days.