Businessman Clive Palmer is being sued by Universal Music. Picture: AAP Image/Jono Searle
Businessman Clive Palmer is being sued by Universal Music. Picture: AAP Image/Jono Searle

Palmer’s ‘surprising’ lawsuit defence

Billionaire Clive Palmer will now argue he did not believe any copyright was attached to the chorus of Twisted Sister's We're Not Gonna Take It as it is derived from a beloved Christmas carol.

Universal Music is suing the businessman-cum-politician in the Federal Court for royalties after he used a rewritten version of the '80s rock classic during the 2019 federal election campaign.

The tune's chorus was used heavily online and on radio and television promoting the Palmer United Party in a multimillion-dollar advertising blitz.

United Australia Party leader Clive Palmer. Picture: AAP Image/Rebecca Le May
United Australia Party leader Clive Palmer. Picture: AAP Image/Rebecca Le May

The American music giant is seeking copyright payments and additional damages, arguing Mr Palmer benefited from for the unauthorised use of the track.

Mr Palmer had previously argued he owned the copyright to the lyrics in his version, which the court previously heard he used after allegedly baulking at a licence fee for the original song.

However, his lawyer Edmund Robinson told the court on Monday his client now admitted copyright existed for the song as a whole but would argue he did not breach ownership laws as its chorus is the same as Christmas carol Oh Come All Ye Faithful.

Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider is expected to give evidence in the trial.
Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider is expected to give evidence in the trial.

Mr Robinson said an expert witness would be called to compare the two songs, and if their similarity was established then "we say there has been no breach of copyright".

"If the chorus of the song is very much the same as an earlier work then that's highly relevant on whether that's (copyright) been breached," he said.

"The chorus is derived from Oh Come All Ye Faithful - that was the part that was used.

"It's still up to the applicants to prove there has been a breach of copyright."

 

Patrick Flynn, acting for Universal, called the updated argument a "surprising contention" and said it appeared the former mining magnate would use an innocent infringement defence.

He asked Justice Anna Katzmann to order Mr Palmer hand over all documents outlining why he thought no copyright was attached to the chorus, which she granted.

Justice Katzmann ordered Mr Palmer pay the costs to Universal as a result from the change of his defence.

She also instructed the parties to decide on agreed facts and issues for the upcoming hearing by August 17.

 

 

 

Originally published as Palmer's 'surprising' lawsuit defence



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