By Colin Packham
An Australian court ordered mining magnate Clive Palmer to pay A$1.5 million ($1.2 million) in damages to Universal Music on Friday for breaching the copyright of the once-Long Island-based band Twisted Sister‘s 1984 hit song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in political advertising.
The Federal Court heard that Palmer had refused to pay Universal to license the song but had used it anyway, with modified lyrics, in advertising for his political outfit, United Australia Party (UAP), ahead of a 2019 general election.
Palmer argued the tune in the advertisements was based on the Christian hymn “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and that his lyrics – “Australia ain’t gonna cop it, no Australia’s not gonna cop it, Aussies not gonna cop it anymore” – had nothing to do with the U.S. glam rockers’ hit song.
Federal Court Justice Anna Katzmann said Palmer’s defense was “fanciful”.
“In the face of the evidence it is, with respect, ludicrous to suggest that the UAP recording was created independently of (We’re Not Gonna Take It),” she wrote in a ruling published.
Palmer had been “high-handed and contemptuous” and “gave false evidence, including concocting a story to exculpate himself,” she added.
As well as the damages, Palmer was ordered to pay costs and to remove all copies of his song.
Twisted Sister lead singer Dee Snider, who grew up in Baldwin, responded to the ruling on Twitter: “It’s over baby! WE WON BIG!!”
“We’re not gonna take copyright infringement any more!!” he wrote after the verdict.
A spokesman for Palmer said the businessman would examine the ruling and consider an appeal.
Palmer made a fortune from real estate and mining before entering federal politics in 2013 on a populist platform.
His party won a handful of seats before imploding in acrimony and in-fighting, and failed to win a single seat in 2019 despite spending A$83 million on advertising.
($1 = 1.2855 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Stephen Coates)