Eminem lawsuit against New Zealand political party begins

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United States rap artist Eminem is suing New Zealand's ruling National Party over a a track it used for a campaign ad in 2014, the media reported on Monday.

The trial begins at the Wellington High Court this morning. The ad soundtrack, titled "Eminem Esque", features a similar beat as the original song.

Eight Mile Style lawyer Garry Williams has spent the morning opening his argument against National, saying it breached copyright law a number of times by using the song.

National Party emails, quoted by Mr Williams, described the song as an Eminem "sound-alike".

"The licensing of the song has been extremely carefully controlled".

"It can command fees of millions of dollars, that's how valuable it is".

National's campaign manager said the party did not believe it had used the music illegally.

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Eminem spokesman Joel Martin told the Associated Press outside the courthouse that the rapper's publishers were surprised the National Party didn't settle the case before it went to trial, as is typically customary when politicians face legal action for using artists' work without permission.

Eminem's attorney Gary Williams emphasized how valuable "Lose Yourself" is, even among the many hits in his catalog.

That reproduction was accessed by the party through an agency and at one stage had the name "Eminem Abbr", which was later changed to "Eminem-esque".

The National Party's campaign committee staged a focus group with two versions of the proposed commercial; one with classical music and the other with the track in question.

The National Party have denied the allegations.

"[They took] a calculated risk because they'd been told if an issue arose they wouldn't be legally liable, but that wasn't correct".

The case is expected to continue for six days.