The Eminem copyright dispute playing out to a familiar riff in the Wellington High Court is but one of many legal fights the rapper, aka Marshall Mathers, has participated in over recent years.
He has faced or instituted around one lawsuit a year, many being settled. One report calculates that over 13 years his legal costs have been over $4.7 million per year.
The New Zealand lawsuit brought against the National Party saw Eminem’s company lawyer Garry Williams, saying that the National Party infringed copyright by using the tune “Lose Yourself” or a substantial reproduction of it, even though the song’s lyrics weren’t used in the ad.
We have half a dozen of his major legal fights outlined here:
1. Suing Mom.
He was sued by his mother for about $10 million after allegedly slandering her in his The Slim Shady LP. Debbie Mathers’ case lasted from 1999 until 2001 when she picked up . . guess what? . . just $1600.
2. The gun & bouncer lawsuits.
In 2000 he was arrested after pulling an unloaded gun in a car audio shop in Michigan. The following day, in another city, he saw his then wife, Kimberly Scott, kiss a bouncer in the parking area of a Hot Rock Cafe and he was arrested once more for bouncing the bouncer. The incident was re-enacted in his 2000 release on The Eninem Show, (“The Kiss (Skit)”). He received two years’ probation on both offences.
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3. The Suicide Suit.
In 2000 Kimberly Scott attempted suicide and the rapper released his song “Kim” which resulted in a defamation lawsuit against him, which starts in rather prim fashion before terminating in Kim having her throat slit and putting her in a car boot. The result was also one where the Ontario Attorney General took an action to prevent Eminem entering Canada based also on his song “Kill Me”. His Toronto concert went ahead anyway.
4. The Schoolmate suit.
A former schoolmate sued him in 2001 for $1 million damages for allegedly defaming him when he sung. . “I was harassed daily by this fat kid named DeAngelo Bailey. An eighth-grader who acted obnoxious, ‘cuase his father boxes. So every day he’d shove me into the lockers.” The charges were dismissed.
5. The Stolen Beats Suit.
Eminem and his producer Dr Dre were sued in 2002 by a French musician, Jacques Loussier, who claimed that the rapper had stolen his beat from “Pulsion” and a $10 million lawsuit was filed, which was settled for an undisclosed amount.
6. The George W Bush Near-Thing.
It wasn’t a lawsuit, but the Secret Service believed the rapper was a threat to then president George W Bush in 2003 as a result of an unreleased song called “We As Americans”, which rapped “Fuck money, I don’t rap for dead presidents. I’d rather see the president dead, its never been said but I set precedents.”
7. “Lose Yourself” Lawsuit #1.
The subject of the current New Zealand lawsuit was in 2003 when Apple Inc and the rapper fought over the use of the “Lose Yourself” beat used in an Apple iTunes commercial, which showed a 10 year old rapping the lyrics.
8. The Relatives Lawsuit.
Eminem’s uncle and aunt, Jack and Betty Schmitt sued him in l2005 when he promised them $350,000 for a house, plus maintenance allowances, but he kept the house and tried to evict them.
9 Apple, Again Lawsuit.
The second Apple lawsuit was in 2007 when his company, Eight Mile Style and others filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against iTunes for copyright violations involving an evident failure to negotiate a deal for digital downloads. It was settled shortly after the trial for an undisclosed amount.
10. The Homeless Man Lawsuit.
This involved a $9 million claim for use of intellectual property in a Super Bowl ad – the “Born of Fire” ad – by Eminem and in respect of a popular, previous Super Bowl ad, based allegedly on a Christina Aguilera-featured ad and brought by a homeless man.