If you've been following the news this week you might have seen that Eminem is in the process of suing the New Zealand National Party for using what he says is an unlicensed version of his hit 'Lose Yourself' in their 2014 campaign advert.
While the song might sound strikingly similar, the party's lawyers argue that it wasn't lose yourself, but a song called 'Eminen-esq' which they bought from a stock music library legally.
Now this might sound ridiculous but reproduced versions of popular songs for commercial use do a roaring trade. If you have a look at some of the online free-to-use commercial music libraries, you will find a swag of songs that sound like pretty similar, if not slightly altered versions of songs you already know and love.
And it's not like nobody has noticed.
Just last week psychedelic rock giants Tame Impala posted on their Instagram after discovering a Chinese commercial for blueberry milk featuring a track that sure sounds a lot like their song 'The Less I Know The Better'.
There have even been instances of companies seeking the rights to the original song first- and when they are turned down, producing a faux-copy of it instead. Sigur Ros say they have had this happen on numerous occasions and wrote a blog post titled 'Homage or Fromage' about it, detailing the experience and calling out the companies involved.
You might be wondering how people are managing to do this. The law around copyright says that you need to prove two things to be found guilty of plagiarism. You have to have had 'access' to the music, ie – it must be reasonable that you could have heard it, and the other is 'substantial similarity'.
This being said, the assumption would be that it isn't such an easy process, given the amount of adverts kicking around with super familiar backing tracks.
The case for Eminem is still expected to go for another week, with the outcome unsure at this stage. If he does manage to win the case, it could be a substantial payout, given the estimate of what the song would normally net for use in an ad is in the millions.
I guess we will just have to watch this one play out to see what happens. In the mean time, I have to go... I have a really great idea for a song that sounds just like 'Hotel California'.