Universal Music: Clive Palmer, we’re not gonna take it!

Music giant Universal Music has launched Federal Court action against former federal MP Clive Palmer, the face of the United Australia Party, claiming he has breached its copyright over a song in a political advertisement.

The case relates to the use of the 1980’s song We’re Not Gonna Take It by US rock band Twisted Sister in adverts for Mr Palmer’s party.

Whilst the original lyrics in the song have been used prolifically since being released, it is Mr Palmer’s alteration of the lyrics and unauthorised use that has prompted Universal Music’s application in the Federal Court. In particular, the lyrics have been changed from:

Oh we’re not gonna take it

No, we ain’t gonna take it

Oh we’re not gonna take it anymore

to

Australia ain’t gonna cop it

No Australia’s not gonna cop it

Aussies not gonna cop it anymore.

Copyright laws provide fundamental protections for the creators and inventors of original works. In Australia, copyright material cannot be formally registered, however, certain forms of expression and subject matter, such as musical works, images, films and literary works are automatically protected under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).

One of the key concepts required for protection is that the work must be original and attributable to the creator’s skill and labour. Mr Palmer has tried to justify the political party’s use of the Twisted Sister song by claiming it was not original but rather, based on the 18th century hymn O Come, All Ye Faithful.

Despite this claim, the United Australia Party initially sought to license the song from Universal Music, which shows an awareness that the use of the song would be subject to the copyright owner’s consent.

If Mr Palmer’s unauthorised use of the song is deemed to constitute copyright infringement, the Copyright Act provides a range of remedies available to Universal Music, including injunctions, damages or an account of profits.

Macpherson Kelley is well equipped to advise and assist in copyright matters, including the enforcement and licensing of copyright works. If you have any questions relating to copyright or the protection and commercialisation of your Intellectual Property, please contact Belinda Sigismundi.

This article was written by Belinda Sigismundi, Principal Lawyer and Jason Kaye, Lawyer – Commercial