Australian politician Clive Palmer has been ordered to pay AUS$1.5 million (approximately $1.17 million) in damages after losing a copyright case involving TWISTED SISTER's classic song "We're Not Gonna Take It".
In 2019, Palmer adopted the melody and rhythm of "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, 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 in February 2020.
During the trial, 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.
Palmer's attorney played a mashup of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" and "We're Not Gonna Take It", performed during a live Christmas concert in Chicago, which was featured in the 2014 stage musical "Dee Snider's Rock & Roll Christmas Tale".
Snider said the two songs were "rhythmically different, and that is inspiration not duplication." He added the songs had to be "shoehorned" together to create the versions used in his musical and the 2006 cover. "It was very difficult," he said.
Universal attorney Patrick Flynn told the court that Palmer had balked at paying a $150,000 copyright fee to use the song, instead offering just $35,000.
On Friday (April 30),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," she wrote in her judgment, according to ABC. "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."
Along with having to pay AUS$1.5 million in damages, Palmer has also been ordered to cover legal costs and to remove all copies of his song and video from the Internet.
Snider celebrated the win, tweeting: "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!!"