Details emerge in Eminem vs. Apple Computer lawsuit

“Rap superstar Eminem, who says he could earn more than $US10 million for endorsing a product, is suing Apple Computer on grounds it used one of his hit songs in a TV advertisement without permission,” Reuters reports. “Eight Mile Style, music publisher of the artist whose real name is Marshall Mathers III, filed the copyright infringement lawsuit last Friday in US District Court in Detroit.”

“It also names Viacom, its MTV subsidiary and TBWA/Chiat/Day advertising agency as plaintiffs. Apple and Viacom both declined to comment on the pending litigation. The lawsuit claims Apple, in a television ad for its iTunes pay-per-download music store aired on MTV last year, featured a young boy with an iPod portable music player singing the lyrics to ‘Lose Yourself,’ the theme song for his hit movie ‘8 Mile’ released in 2003,” Reuters reports.

“The ad was also posted on Apple’s website, the suit says. ‘At no time did Apple, Chiat/Day or MTV receive authorization or permission to record, reproduce, perform, transmit, copy, use or otherwise exploit the composition (‘Lose Yourself’) for any purpose,’ it says,” Reuters reports. “‘Defendants have acted intentionally, recklessly, wilfully and in bad faith,’ it adds.”

Full article here.

The complete lawsuit paperwork is available online via PDF here.

You can view PDFs directly in Apple’s Safari with the free ‘PDF Browser Plugin’ which displays Quartz compatible PDF documents within Web browsers including Safari. More info and download link here.


  1. How could a company of Apple’s stature do something like this…this will set a precedence for the other songs they used in those ads. Did they have permission to use those? There must be more to this…if not, what were they thinking?

  2. can someone explain how a young boy mouthing just the words to a song (w/ no audible music) be considered copyright infringement? Can we be sued for singing along w/ the songs we hear? what if someone videotapes it and uses it to sell a product?

  3. There are several parties involved with music usage. The first is the person(s) who wrote the music and/or lyrics. And the second is the people who performed the song in an existing recording.

    In this case, since no recording was used, that’s not the issue. However, the songwriter(via the publisher) needs to be compensated.

    Generally, it would be up to the ad agency to secure music clearances for works used in commercials, so in this case, if convicted, it’ll be up to the parties involved to figure out who said it was “ok” to do this, and share the fines and fees.

    All things considered, it would have been much cheaper for Apple to secure the rights from the publisher(for a fraction of the 10 Mill requested) than it will be if convicted.

  4. Jeffrey,

    Copyright Infringement, False Endorsement, Unfair Competition and Unjust Enrichment are civil actions, not criminal actions. Nobody will be convicted in this case, they will be found liable. Surely you remember that from the first day of your Contracts and Torts class in law school…

  5. RE: Plugin to view PDF doc. It’s nice but completely sucks in that you can no longer print PDF documents when it’s activated. Went back to Preview since it’s so fast w/Panther.

  6. Actually, swan, if someone videotaped you without your permission and put you in an ad, you could sue their pants off. Editorial use (news, textbooks, art) of images/video are protected by the First Amendment, but commercial (advertising, marketing, etc.) use is not.

  7. i can see that–but a kid (not m&m) is saying words that happen to be rap lyrics in m&m’s song–can’t see any m&m performance there–just see a kid’s performance of a small portion of lyrics–which anyone is free to do–am i right? i mean, everytime somebody does an m&m kariokes at some bar, do they owe m&m $10 million?? doesn’t make since because they’re not using the actual song, but someone mimicking some words..

  8. The composition itself is copyrighted–not just Eminem’s performance of it. Apple knew this and sought permission, was denied, and went ahead. IF that version is true, as claimed, then of course Apple should not be above the law.

  9. You can sing Em’s (not M&M, Eminem) lyrics all you want, wherever you want, whenever you want as long as you are not getting paid to do so. The girl in the ad can sing his lyrics, but if Apple paid her to do so for the commercial, then she and Apple are in the wrong. Thats why you can karyoke any song you want at a party or club, but if you get money for it, such as a prize, then its considered a performance, and you can get sued bigtime.

    And, Im pretty sure Em has those lyrics Copyrighted so any paid performance of the lyrics would be illegal.


Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.