Facebook is facing a nice little lawsuit from Slim Shady, which would be fun if it got to court, which it almost certainly won’t.
Eminem’s publishing company Eight Mile Style has accused the social network and its advertising agency of ripping off one of the rapper’s tracks for a promotional film flogging the social media company’s Facebook Home app, and shown during a webcast by the firm’s top man Mark Zuckerberg.
Lawyers for Eight Mile Style say that ad company Wieden+Kennedy deliberately lifted from Eminem track ‘Under The Influence’, from 2000 album ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’, because they knew Zuckerberg was a fan of the rapper’s work (something suggested by a teenage webpage created by the Facebook boss that re-emerged online last month).
After fans of the rapper noticed the similarities between the music in the Facebook Home ad and ‘Under The Influence’, legal reps for Eight Mile Style quickly sent Wieden+Kennedy a cease and desist.
Possibly as a result of that, when the ad was subsequently formally posted to YouTube, a new soundtrack had been added to it. The soundtrack switch, now says Eight Mile Style, implies acknowledgment on W+K’s part that the original ad infringed the publisher’s copyrights.
But, presumably knowing that Slim Shady’s publisher was now likely to sue over the original webcast, lawyers for the ad company hit back in a formal response to the cease and desist, which is quoted in Eight Mile Style’s lawsuit.
In it W+K’s lawyers seemingly suggest that ‘Under The Influence’ itself lifts music from another track (a Michael Jackson song apparently), a practice producer Dr Dre is known for, the letter adds. But, counters Eight Mile Style, no one has ever noted any similarity between the music used in Zuckerberg’s webcast and any Jackson work, and anyway, although a frequent Eminem collaborator, Dre didn’t work on ‘Under The Influence’.
Says Eight Mile Style’s lawsuit: “The 29 Apr 2013 reply from counsel was brimming with bellicose language and replete with gross factual inaccuracies. First, counsel falsely and wrongfully alleged that Andre Young, professionally known as Dr Dre, composed ‘Under The Influence’. Yet, a simple internet search of the Eminem/D12 Composition would have revealed that ‘Under The Influence’ was composed by Marshall Mathers III and members of D12, including Denaun Porter, Von Carlisle, Ondre Moore, R Arthur Johnson, and DeShaun Holton. Dr Dre likewise did not produce ‘Under The Influence’”.
It goes on: “After wrongfully disparaging Dr Dre with inflammatory accusations about his practices as a producer and his alleged ‘long, well-documented history of copyright infringement’, (which is misguided, gratuitous and irrelevant since Dr Dre was not involved in the creation of the Eminem/D12 Composition), the letter continues with bizarre allegations that Dr Dre has actually stolen from Michael Jackson because ‘Under The Influence’ is supposedly a rip-off of one of Michael Jackson’s songs. 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 advertisement copied directly the Eminem/D12 Composition, and ordinary observers have so concluded”.