Clive Palmer has been ordered to pay $1.5 million in damages for copyright infringement over his political rendition of the metal track We’re Not Gonna Take It.
The businessman and former politician was sued by Universal Music after he used rewritten lyrics in a version of the Twisted Sister song in saturation advertising for his United Australia Party in 2019.
Despite first seeking a licence to use the 1984 track before abandoning negotiations due to the price, Mr Palmer claimed his lyrics came to him while contemplating the federal election.
In the Federal Court, Justice Anna Katzmann on Friday found Mr Palmer had infringed the copyright of both the musical and literary work of the original track.
“Mr Palmer’s use of [the song] was opportunistic,” she wrote in her judgment.
“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.”
In addition to awarding $1.5 million in damages against Mr Palmer, she also ordered him to pay costs and to remove all copies of his song and the accompanying video from the internet.
In a tweet, Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider declared the legal battle was finished.
The judge described aspects of Mr Palmer’s explanations of his creative process as “a recent invention”.
The court heard UAP was provided with a quote for the licence fee through a company engaged to provide production services for its advertising.
It was to cost $150,000 for eight months and “subject to writer approval”.
In her judgment, Justice Katzmann noted Mr Palmer “baulked” at paying the licence fee and his representative made a counter-offer of $35,000.
Mr Palmer’s legal team initially argued the 1984 Twisted Sister track lacked originality because of its “substantial similarities” with the Christmas carol O Come, All Ye Faithful.
That argument was withdrawn and they instead invoked a parody and satire defence under the Copyright Act.
Justice Katzmann described the argument that the UAP works were for the purpose of satire as “ambitious, to say the least”.
Mr Palmer was accused of lying during his evidence when he appeared before the court in October.
He claimed his lyrics, which included “Australia ain’t gonna cop it”, had nothing to do with the metal song but were inspired by a similar line in the 1976 film Network.
Justice Katzmann said that suggestion “appeared to take everyone else in the virtual courtroom by surprise”.
Mr Palmer said he couldn’t provide the notepad he originally scrawled his ideas on because it had been thrown out by his staff.
His argument wasn’t about money, he said, but “the principle” and “not being prepared to be ripped off”.
Snider gave a blunt assessment of Mr Palmer’s jingle during a hearing in 2020, describing it as “awful” and having “misrepresented the message”.
He said being associated with Mr Palmer’s image was “not good for my heavy metal image”.