Facebook’s latest advert features music that sounds suspiciously similar to Eminem’s ‘Under the Influence’
Eminem’s music publisher Eight Mile Style has accused Facebook of using the artist’s 2000 hit ‘Under the Influence’ in a launch advert for Facebook Home, without first obtaining a license.
The company has filed a lawsuit in Michigan federal court, in which it claims that advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy has wilfully infringed copyright in order to impress Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
In response, Wieden + Kennedy said that the song in question wasn’t original, since the producer Dr. Dre (who didn’t actually produce this particular composition) stole his beats from Michael Jackson.
Eight Mile Style is seeking maximum statutory damages, which in this case could be as high as $150,000, as well as a permanent injunction prohibiting use of the advert in its current form.
“Cause I was high when I wrote this”
Facebook Home, the app that provides a social network makeover for Android devices, was launched in April and met with mixed reviews. After installing the app, content such as photos, statuses and events can be viewed directly from the home screen, allowing users to like, comment and interact without the need to open a dedicated Facebook application.
In a court filing discovered by the Hollywood Reporter, Eight Mile Style says that ‘Airplane’ advert, used to promote the app on the launch day and widely screened on YouTube, is clearly set to Under the Influence, released in 2000 by Eminem and hip hop outfit D12 as part of the Grammy-winning album ‘Marshal Matters’.
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly a big fan of Eminem, and even borrowed the alias Slim Shady while writing one of his earlier websites. Eight Mile Style says that’s the exact reason this particular song was used.
“Upon information and belief, W+K incorporated said music into the Airplane advertisement in an effort to curry favour with Facebook by catering to Zuckerberg’s personal likes and interests, and/or to invoke the same irreverent theme as the Eminem/D12 Composition,” says the filing.
The composition was first recognised by YouTube viewers, prompting Wieden + Kennedy to alter the soundtrack. According to the court filing, this shows that the ad men were perfectly aware of the issue. But the slight change in tempo doesn’t shield them from responsibility: according to the US copyright law, Eight Mile Style also owns all rights to derivatives of works created by Eminem and D12.
At the end of April, Wieden + Kennedy sent music publishers a response, in which it accused famous producer Dr. Dre of stealing his beats from songs by Michael Jackson, even though he had nothing to do with recording Under the Influence.
“Not one person, however, who heard the Facebook advertisement, and commented about it on the blogosphere, noted any similarity between the Facebook advertisement and any Michael Jackson song. To the contrary, it is clear that the Airplane advertisement copied directly the Eminem/D12 Composition, and ordinary observers have so concluded,” concludes the filing.
The two companies are expected go to settle their differences in court.
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