Clive Palmer knew he needed a licence to use US metal band Twisted Sister's hit We're Not Gonna Take It in political advertisements for his United Australia Party but "flagrantly" infringed copyright and increased the harm by "taunting" the band in public, according to court documents.
Universal Music, which acquired publishing rights to the song from Twisted Sister lead singer Dee Snider in 2015, filed copyright infringement proceedings against Mr Palmer in the Federal Court in Sydney on February 6 after a month-long stoush with the former member for Fairfax outside court.
Mr Palmer is also facing potential legal action over his unauthorised use of Culture Club's 1983 hit Karma Chameleon – re-imagined as "Palmer Chameleon" – in a mobile phone game promoting his re-election bid.
In documents filed in court, Universal says Mr Palmer has created a number of "memorable advertisements" he would not have been able to create without infringing its copyright in We're Not Gonna Take It, written by Snider in the early 1980s, and by doing so he has "garnered significant additional publicity for Palmer and the UAP's campaign".
Conversely, Universal says Mr Palmer's use of the song is damaging the company's reputation and goodwill and damaging "the commercial value of the copyright" in the song and lyrics.
Advertisements for the United Australia Party featuring a re-worked version of the song have been airing on free-to-air television since "at least" January 1, Universal says, and from the same date online.
In Mr Palmer's twist on the hit, Twisted Sister's famous chorus becomes: "Australia ain't gonna cop it, no Australia's not gonna cop it, Aussies not gonna cop it any more."
Universal says media monitoring reports suggest the advertisement was broadcast on the Seven, Nine and Ten networks between 50 and 167 times in the first week of January alone.
It wrote to Mr Palmer on January 3 asking him to "immediately withdraw" the videos, to no avail.
Universal says a Brisbane-based video production business, Atomic Pixel, engaged in negotiations in October last year with it to use the Twisted Sister anthem in advertisements for Mr Palmer's United Australia Party but "no licence was granted".
The US music giant accuses Mr Palmer of acting "flagrantly", knowing he did not have a licence to use the song, and making public statements including on social media that were "intended to taunt and cause further damage" to Universal and Mr Snider, such as his claim We're Not Gonna Take It is "not an original work by Mr Snider".
In a statement on January 8, Mr Palmer claimed Twisted Sister's 1984 hit was based on the 18th century hymn O Come, All Ye Faithful and "we do not understand how they have ever had any claim to its copyright".
Universal also pointed to a January 30 press release circulated by Mr Palmer and titled "Palmer wishes ageing rocker a comfortable retirement" as being intended to cause further damage to it and Snider.
The music giant is seeking an injunction restraining Mr Palmer from using the song, plus damages and costs. It also wants the court to order Mr Palmer to hand over all unauthorised copies of the song on United Australia Party recordings and videos.
The parties will appear in court for a preliminary hearing before Justice Alan Robertson on March 6.
Courtesy of Michaela Whitbourn for The Sydney Morning Herald