Australian politician Clive Palmer says that does not need to pay TWISTED SISTER to use a re-written version of the band’s classic song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in connection with his political party, noting that he changed the track’s lyrics and insisting that the 1980s hit is “not an original work” deserving of copyright protections.
Clive Palmer adopted the melody and rhythm of TWISTED SISTER‘s hit single “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in his political advertisements for the United Australia Party. The advertisements feature a vocalist singing the TWISTED SISTER song’s melody along with the lyrics: “Australia ain’t gonna cop it, no Australia’s not gonna cop it, Aussies not gonna cop it any more.”
In TWISTED SISTER‘s original, singer Dee Snider sings: “Oh we’re not gonna take it, no we ain’t gonna take it, oh we’re not gonna take it anymore.”
Universal Music, which acquired publishing rights to “We’re Not Gonna Take It” from Snider in 2015, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Palmer on February 6.
In recent months, Palmer accused TWISTED SISTER of “swindling its hit song from a famous Christmas carol.” Snider had previously admitted that glam rock band SLADE and “O Come, All Ye Faithful” were influences while he was writing “We’re Not Gonna Take It”.
The opening five words in the lyrics of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” have the same melody as the song in the ad, as well as the chorus of “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, but the Christmas carol follows a different chord progression and is traditionally played in a different musical style to both the ad and the TWISTED SISTER classic.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, lawyers for Palmer filed a legal defense in the Federal Court in Sydney, arguing that in the event the court finds the hit song is an “original work” in which copyright subsists, he falls within a “fair dealing” defense to copyright infringement because his reworked song amounts to “parody or satire”.
TWISTED SISTER guitarist Jay Jay French called Palmer‘s use of the song “unauthorized” and vowed to do his “best to stop it.” Snider also claimed that Palmer knew about the licensing fee required for the song but decided to re-record his own version of it anyway.
The parties are scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing on July 24.
Rapper Eminem successfully won $600,000 NZD ($415,000 USD) in damages in October 2017 when he sued New Zealand’s National party for using a version of his song “Lose Yourself” in a 2014 election campaign advertisement. However, in December, the Court of Appeal ruled that those damages should be reduced down to $225,000 NZD ($154,000 USD).