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Rapper Eminem sues over song in Apple Computer ad

Eminem’s music publisher is suing Apple Computer Inc., claiming the computer giant wrongfully used one of the hip-hop superstar’s songs in a television advertisement.

Eight Mile Style filed the copyright infringement suit in U.S. District Court in Detroit against Apple, Viacom Inc., its MTV subsidiary and the TBWA/Chiat/Day advertising agency.

At issue is an ad for Apple’s iTunes pay-per-download music software, in which a 10-year-old sings Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” The suit claims the commercial aired on MTV beginning in July 2003 and ran numerous times for at least three months. It also appeared on Apple’s Web site.

“Eminem has never nationally endorsed any commercial products and… even if he were interested in endorsing a product, any endorsement deal would require a significant amount of money, possibly in excess of $10 million,” according to the 15-page lawsuit filed Friday.

The suit claims that Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs personally called Joel Martin, manager of Ferndale-based Eight Mile Style, and asked Martin and Eminem to “rethink their position” about using the Grammy-winning song.

Eminem responded by ending discussions with Apple, according to the suit. It cites a May 7 e-mail to Martin from a Chiat/Day executive, Andrew Schafter, that read: “So to confirm, you guys are a definite ‘no’ for the campaign as it is (The young boy rapping ‘Lose Yourself’.)”

According to a registration certificate filed with the U.S. Copyright Office, the song – written by Eminem and two others in October 2002 – wasn’t copyrighted until Oct. 27, 2003.

The Detroit News, in a story about the lawsuit published Tuesday, said a spokesman for Chiat/Day in Los Angeles declined to comment. Spokeswomen for Viacom and Apple Computer didn’t return calls from the newspaper.

Eminem, 31, whose legal name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III, grew up in Detroit and several of its blue-collar suburbs. He has sold more than 33 million records, according to industry estimates.

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