‘Those answers are made up’: Clive Palmer grilled in Twisted Sister case

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It was an understated backdrop. Clive Palmer, clad in a navy suit, blue shirt and navy and gold striped tie, gave evidence remotely in the Federal Court on Thursday in front of an ornate mantelpiece with a giant chandelier reflected in the mirror behind him.

The former federal MP and United Australia Party founder is locked in a lengthy court dispute with Universal Music, who has accused him of copyright infringement for using a cover version of the 1984 Twisted Sister hit We're Not Gonna Take It in a rash of political advertisements before the 2019 election.

Clive Palmer, inset, said he has not infringed copyright in the Twisted Sister hit We’re Not Gonna Take It.

But Mr Palmer told the court on Thursday he penned original lyrics for his song, Aussies Not Gonna Cop It, while deep in contemplation at 3am one day in September 2018 and scribbled the words on a pad next to his bed.

He said it was commonplace for "creative people" to keep a notepad next to the bed to write down doodles and thoughts.

The note was no longer in existence because it was customary for his staff to remove such doodlings and throw them "in the trash", Mr Palmer said.



"I don't remove that, my staff do," he told the court.

Mr Palmer said he was not inspired by the chorus of We're Not Gonna Take It but by actor Peter Finch's famous utterance in the 1976 movie Network: "[I'm mad as hell, and] I'm not going to take this anymore."

He said that from this nugget of inspiration he developed the concept "Australians are not prepared to accept it", and it evolved into the chorus: "Australia ain't gonna cop it, no Australia's not gonna cop it, Aussies not gonna cop it any more."

Universal Music's barrister, Peter Flynn, SC, said: "Those answers you just gave … are made up."

"Well, that's not true," Mr Palmer replied.

Mr Flynn suggested "the fact is you never wrote anything down in September 2018, did you".

"No that's not true," Mr Palmer said.

Mr Flynn pressed: "You don't care whether something is true or not, do you?"

Mr Palmer said this was not true, and replied "no" when asked if the answer he gave was false.

The Federal Court has heard evidence a video producer approached Universal on Mr Palmer's behalf in 2018 to licence the Twisted Sister hit, but no deal was ever struck.

The former MP insisted on Thursday there was "no copyright in the lyrics" of Twisted Sister's hit, and the phrase "we're not gonna take it" came from Network and a song from the rock opera Tommy by British rockers The Who.

In copyright law, the music and lyrics of a song are separate works. Mr Palmer claims he has not infringed copyright in Twisted Sister's lyrics because he penned his own. He also says he did not infringe the copyright in the hit's melody because he claims it is a "rip off" of the 18th century Christmas carol O Come, All Ye Faithful.

Mr Palmer said he remembered "refusing to pay any money" and saying the melody was "ripped … off a dead monk from Germany".

"I didn't want to be taken advantage of," Mr Palmer said. He said he was dealing with "billions of dollars" and he didn't care about money but it was about "the principle".

Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, who wrote We're Not Gonna Take It, gave evidence on Tuesday he realised years later he had transformed the first six notes of O Come, All Ye Faithful into the chorus of his hit song, but the "key word" was "transformed".

It was a matter of unconscious "inspiration, not duplication", he said.

The hearing continues.

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