Australian politician Clive Palmer has been ordered to pay 1.5 million Australian dollars (about $1.17 million) in damages to famous rock band Twisted Sister after losing a copyright case involving the classic song “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
Back in 2019, Palmer used the melody and rhythm of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” in his political advertisements for the United Australia Party. The advertisements featured a vocalist singing along to the song’s melody with the lyrics: “Australia ain’t gonna cop it, no Australia’s not gonna cop it, Aussies not gonna cop it any more.”
The lyrics obviously are a reference to the original song, which features lead singer Dee Snider singing: “Oh we’re not gonna take it, no we ain’t gonna take it, oh we’re not gonna take it anymore.”
Universal Music acquired the publishing rights to the original song from Snider back in 2015. The music group filed a copyright lawsuit against Palmer back in February 2020. During the trial Palmer accused Twisted Sister of “swindling its hit song from a famous Christmas Carol.” This is in reference to the fact that Snider has spoken out in the past about how “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful” was a major influence in the writing of “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
The opening five words in the lyrics for “O Come, All Ye Faithful” have the same melody as the chorus of “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” and therefore the same melody as the song in the ad, however, the Christmas carol follows a completely different chord progression and is traditionally played in a much different way than the rock classic.
Palmer’s attorney played a mashup in court of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” which was performed by Twisted Sister during a live Christmas concert in Chicago back in 2014.
Snider said the two songs were “rhythmically different, and that is inspiration not duplication. The songs had to be shoehorned together to create the versions used in his musical and the 2006 cover. It was very difficult.”
Universal attorney Patrick Flynn explained to the court that Palmer initially balked at paying the original copyright fee of $150,000, which would’ve allowed him to use the song’s melody completely legally. Instead, Palmer offered just $35,000. This week, Federal Court Justice Anna Katzmann ruled that Palmer was guilty of “infringing the copyright of both the musical and literary work of the original track.”
“Mr. Palmer’s use of [the song] was opportunistic. 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,” Justice Katzmann ruled.
Palmer has been ordered to pay 1.5 million in Australian dollars, as well as covering all the legal costs to remove all copies of his song and video from the internet. Snider took to Twitter to celebrate the win:
“HALLELUJAH!! Just found out that the copyright infringement of ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ by ‘politician’ Clive Palmer in Australia has been decided MAJORLY in favor of myself as writer and @UMG as publishers! WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT ANY MORE!!”
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.