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 do you copyright something? What is the process? I have been told that merely publishing a unique work with your name attached to it gives you a copyright, and that it doesn’t need to be officially registered like a patent does.

    If that’s true, how could Em have copyrighted the lyrics after the commercial aired?

  2. Just to be clear, I believe it was Chiat/Day that sought permission and was denied. I wonder if Apple knew about the fine details involved, or was that all Chiat/Day’s responsibility? Steve called after the fact to have them reconsider, but in Eminem’s typically immature way, he ceased talks with Apple/Chiat/Day. In any case, there must’ve been some legal loophole that Chiat/Day was using to get around this copyright issue (paroday, 10 sec., promo license, what have you…).

  3. the kid sang eminem’s lyric… i’m not a fan of eminimen and i love apple… but i’m a composer… and if they did that to me without my permission i’d be pissed… and lyrics ARE copyrightable… sure he didn’t perform the song, but the kid DID… those are his words and thoughts… it may be junk to people like swan, but not to apple’s intended audience… apple is at fault here… they should have secured permission… it’s the way things are done… and the ad agency should have known that…. i can’t believe they did this…

  4. How do you copyright something? What is the process? I have been told that merely publishing a unique work with your name attached to it gives you a copyright, and that it doesn’t need to be officially registered like a patent does.

    KennyLucius, this is correct, but only applies to civil damages. If you register your work with the copyright office, you can get statutory damages for use without permission, without having to prove any actual damages. It use to be about $400, but thanks to the DMCA (and RIAA) is around $15,000 now! (per violation)

    Mather is not suing for $10M, he’s trying to establish the “violation” as an endorsement by him of the iPod, which is ludicrous. Just another legal shakedown, so Chiat/Day and Apple will probably calculate what it would cost for a court defence and offer that as a settlement.

    It would be fun to see the makers of M&Ms; sue Mather. They have more cause than this action.

  5. but i don’t think the 10 mil is fair… that is IF he endorsed the product (which he didnt)…. this should cost less than if apple actually used his recording (like the way they used black eyed peas’ song)… they should pay eminem for the right to use his lyrics and that’s it… oh yeah, and damages… how much that’s going to be is anybody’s guess.

  6. this is simply ridiculous it is the ad agencies job to procure the copy. apple has the responsibility of checking the ad agencies work. oh yeah where is the endorsement. I really don’t think M would be a part of this. If he is I would just give him the finger. Dre and 50 support the mac and maybe thats why M is mad. Maybe dre and 50 got paid for thier true endorsements of apple. While M got nothing for what his delusion of an endorsement is. M if you want money we better hear your voice or see your face. consider this your bitch slap

  7. Sue the little boy, he did it! The headlines should read “Eminem sueing 10 year old kid for $10 milion for singing his song”. Those greedy musicians, what comes next, somebody getting sued for wearing a home made Eminem t-shirt on TV.

    Anyway, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in court, Apple is on thin ice but it might hold, the spot is very short, there is no melody, and it’s comparable of dictating several lines of a movie script which is legal.

    Kind of funny that a rapper is sueing somebody for “stealing” their song after they’ve been stealing every possible piece of any even remotelly popular song on the planet.

  8. Would be funny if it turned out that they had got permission from the author of those lyrics, it just didn’t happen to be eminem!

    But seriously, you can’t really form an opinion at the moment as we haven’t seen Apple’s reasoning/response to the allegations. Judging after just hearing one side isn’t very good practice.

    Btw, over here we’ve got a provision in copyright law that allows the use of 2 bars without permission, you have anything like that in the states?

  9. this topic has been beaten to death –it’s much ado about nothing. Apple and plaintiffs did nothing wrong… this is just another case of some p(r)issy multimillionaire tw@t crying that (s)he’s more powerful than all their TEENBEAT magazine reading fans previously thought. Hey, crap like this worked for that a**wipe Lars from Metallica… as a result NO ONE can disrespect this a**-bandit-crybaby-millionaire, Lars Ulrich… er, wait… I think I just did! ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

Reader Feedback

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