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Behind the Apple-Eminem Feud

We wrote about Eminem's dispute with Apple yesterday. Now we've learned that Eminem is seeking $16 million in damages from Apple for selling his tracks without proper authorization, according to court documents. But Eminem made money off those sales. So why is he really suing Apple?

Thanks to court documents, we know that bad blood between the Detroit rapper and the iPod-maker runs deep. In 2004, Apple allegedly used an Eminem track in an iPod commercial without permission. Documents show a phone call from Steve Jobs urging Eminem's camp to "reconsider" their disapproval of the iTunes ad. When Eminem refused, they ran it anyway. And after his record company, Aftermath, allegedly licensed digital rights to Em's songs without proper consent, Eminem may have seen an opportunity to take on Apple for round two—to the tune of $16 million. He's also seeking $4.03 million from Aftermath.

The 2004 feud centered on a controversial ad aired on MTV, which featured a "very cute and hip" 10-year-old boy singing to Lose Yourself on his iPod. According to documents in the court filing, Chiat/Day wrote to Eminem, describing the ad:

According to a 2004 court filing from the Eastern District of Michigan, Apple and its advertising agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day, were given an explicit "no." 

But Steve Jobs wouldn't take no for an answer. According to lawyers for Eight Mile Style LLC, Eminem's music publisher, Jobs bluffed, saying Apple would cancel the entire ad campaign without Eminem's consent:


After the phone call, Eminem ceased communications with Apple.


That was in 2004, and Apple settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Eminem filed the current lawsuit in 2007. According to Reuters, last-ditch talks held last night in the presence of a federal magistrate didn't lead to an agreement. The trial began at 9AM this morning.

To read the current suit, view it here.

To read the 2004 suit, download the court filing below.

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mmapple22004cmp.pdf (818 KB)