It may have been fully copyright-licensed, but Eminem still wasn’t happy about Apple’s use of a 10 year old singing ‘Lose Yourself’ from 8 Mile in its iPod ads. But if all the copyrights were cleared what could possibly be his legal beef?
Who: Eminem and Apple Computer
Where: US District Court, Detroit
When: May 2004
We hear from US law firm Manatt Phelps and Phillips that rap artist Eminem has received the court's green light to continue an action against Apple Computer. The proceedings follow the use, in commercials on MTV in the USA for Apple's iPod portable music player and iTunes music download service, of a specially commissioned cover version of Eminem's Oscar winning song from the hit movie 8 Mile entitled "Lose Yourself." The singer for Apple was a 10 year old girl.
So far as we are aware, Apple obtained all requisite copyright licences covering the usage.
Eminem's claim, however, is that regardless of any copyright licence, Apple should have obtained Eminem's personal consent. This was because Eminem's argument ran, the song had achieved such "iconic stature" and was so closely associated with Eminem personally that any rendition of it in advertising implied Eminem's personal endorsement.
By all accounts, Apple sought to have the action struck out on the basis that it had obtained all requisite licences. However on May 24 2004 the Federal Detroit Judge rejected the strike out application and allowed the Eminem suit to proceed.
Why this matters:
Levi's jeans experienced a not dissimilar problem when some years ago they used a fully licensed cover version of Tom Waits' "Heart Attack and Vine" in TV commercials. Although all appropriate copyright licences were in place, again the consent of the artist who was associated with the work had not been obtained. Whether Eminem will ultimately succeed in this claim remains to be seen. However, where a song is particularly associated with a single personality or star, this dimension must always be considered if licensing soundtracks for advertising use.