After losing a copyright battle over his use of the Twisted Sister song. They are not gonna take it in a series of campaign ads leading up to the 2019 federal election, businessman Clive Palmer has been forced to pay Universal Music $1.5 million.
"It was 'ludicrous' and 'fanciful' to suggest Mr Palmer’s recording was created independently of the Twisted Sister anthem, Justice Katzmann said, and his behaviour in using the song without a licence was 'high-handed and contemptuous'". https://t.co/cEf2T81PqA
— Timothy McDonald (@timothy_mcd) April 30, 2021
Federal Court Justice Anna Katzmann ruled on Friday that the former federal MP and member of the United Australia Party had infringed on Universal Music’s copyright in the 1984 smash, rejecting his arguments that he wrote his own lyrics and used the melody of an 18th-century hymn.
The judge humiliated Palmer’s work
The idea that Mr Palmer’s song “Aussies Not Gonna Cop It” was written independently of the Twisted Sister anthem was “ludicrous” and “fanciful,” Justice Katzmann said, and his behaviour in using the song without a license was “high-handed and contemptuous.”
He said that he provided false evidence, including fabricating a story to exonerate himself. Justice Katzmann ordered him to pay $500,000 in damages, $1 million in additional damages due to the infringement’s flagrancy, and legal fees. Damages interest will be determined at a later time.
Copyright law and Twisted sisters’ claim
The music and lyrics of an album are considered independent works under copyright law. Mr Palmer said he did not infringe on Twisted Sister’s copyright because he wrote his own lyrics in the early hours of September 2018 while “deep in contemplation.”
He said that he was influenced by actor Peter Finch’s famous utterance in the 1976 film Network: “[I’m crazy as hell, and] I’m not going to take this any longer.” From this spark of inspiration, he said he created the idea “Australians are not prepared to embrace it,” which evolved into the chorus “Australia ain’t going to cop it, no Australia’s not going to cop it, Aussies not going to cop it anymore.”
“This testimony seemed to catch everyone else in the virtual courtroom by surprise,” Justice Katzmann said. In 2018, a video producer approached Universal on Mr Palmer’s behalf to license the Twisted Sister hit, according to facts.
Mr Palmer also alleged that the melody of the hit song was a “rip-off” of the 18th century Christmas carol O Come, All Ye Faithful and that it was not covered by copyright law. Later, Justice Katzmann acknowledged that Universal owned the rights to both the lyrics and the melody, but claimed that his song did not contain a large part of either work and therefore did not constitute copyright infringement.
He also said that any use of the song was covered by the “fair dealing” defence for satirical works.
Judge Katzmann said something strange about twisted sisters song
By using the chorus of the Twisted Sister single, generally known as the song’s “Most popular attribute,” Justice Katzmann noticed he had used a significant portion of the lyrics and melody.
He dismissed the fair dealing defense, claiming that the song was not intended to satirize anybody or something. Dee Snider, the frontman of Twisted Sister, testified that he realized years later that he had converted the first six notes of O Come, All Ye Faithful into his popular chorus, but the “keyword” was “transformed.” It was unintentional “inspiration” rather than “duplication.”
Mr Palmer realized he needed a license to use the album, but “decided to go ahead without one,” according to Justice Katzmann.