Clive Palmer loses Twisted Sister copyright case, ordered to pay $1.5million in damages

The judge residing over the Federal Court said Palmer's use of the song was "opportunistic"

The years-long legal battle between Clive Palmer and Twisted Sister has come to its conclusion, with the politician ordered to pay $1.5million in damages.

The Queensland politician was sued by Universal Music back in 2019, after he used a rewritten version of Twisted Sister’s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ in political ad campaigns.

Palmer had reached out to receive appropriate licensing to use the song, however he didn’t proceed further after learning of the price ($150,000 for eight months), but used the song anyway after providing a counter-offer for $35,000.

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Justice Anna Katzmann, in the Federal Court, found that Palmer’s version had infringed the copyright of the band’s 1984 hit. “Mr Palmer’s use of [the song] was opportunistic,” Katzmann wrote, via ABC.

“He saw political and personal advantage in both its notoriety or popularity and the message it conveyed and he thought that he could get away with using it merely by altering some of the words. He was wrong.”

Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider celebrated the court’s decision on social media earlier today, writing, “It’s over baby! WE WON BIG!!”

Snider has consistently denounced Palmer and his usage of the song, saying that the association with Palmer was bad for his “heavy metal image.”

Snider appeared on The Today Show in 2019, saying “He’s stealing my music. He’s refusing to pay the royalties that he’s supposed to pay to use it in a commercial campaign.”

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Last year, Palmer revealed his defence of using the song would rely on him allegedly not understanding ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ had copyright laws attached, because it was “derived” from the Christmas carol, ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’.

However, this argument was later withdrawn and Palmer’s legal team instead invoked a parody and satire defence under the Copyright Act. Judge Katzmann said she found the notion that Palmer’s party, United Australia Party, worked with the purposes of satire “ambitious, to say the least”.

Palmer also said the rewrite, specifically the new hook of “Australia ain’t gonna cop it”, was inspired by a line in the 1976 film Network, starring Faye Dunaway. Katzmann said this “appeared to take everyone else in the virtual courtroom by surprise”.

In addition to the $1.5million in damages he’ll pay, Palmer will also have to pay costs and remove all copies of the track from the internet.

‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ has been previously used by political candidates in the past, with Donald Trump using it alongside his 2016 US presidential campaign. Snider approved of Trump’s use of the song in 2015, saying at the time Trump was a “pretty chill guy” who would “fight the system”.

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