Former Aussie politician ordered to pay $1.5m after infringing Twisted Sister copyright

Dee Snider and Clive Palmer
Dee Snider and (inset) Clive Palmer (Image credit: Paul Natkin/Getty Images)

Australian businessman and former politician Clive Palmer has been ordered to pay $1.5 million in damages for copyright infringement after being found guilty of plagiarising Twisted Sister's 1984 hit We're Not Gonna Take It. 

Palmer, whose populist United Australia Party altered the lyrics to "Australia ain't gonna cop it" in a TV campaign ahead of the country's 2019 elections, had claimed that the original song, written by Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider, had itself been based on another, the Christmas carol O Come, All Ye Faithful. 

In a statement released in 2019, Palmer said, "The song We’re Not Gonna Take It as an alleged musical work was not written by Dee Snider. The music was originally arranged as a cappella piece from the hymn O Come All Ye Faithful first composed in the mid 1700s.

“As Twisted Sister never remunerated the original arranger, we do not understand how they have ever had any claim to its copyright. It seems Universal Music Group may have been misled at the time of paying the group’s front man Dee Snider money for something he never owned."

The Justice in the copyright infringement case, Justice Katzmann, begged to differ, saying, "The chorus of WNGTI, like the work as a whole, indisputably originated with Mr Snider and it has originality. A not inconsiderable amount of skill, judgement, time and effort was involved in its production."

The Justice went on to say that it was "ludicrous" and "fanciful" to claim that Palmer’s version of the song wasn't based on the Twisted Sister classic, and that using the song without first obtaining permission was "high-handed and contemptuous".

"HALLELUJAH!!," tweeted Dee Snider upon hearing the news. "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 favour of myself as writer and as publishers! WE'RE NOT GONNA TAKE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT ANY MORE!!"

In 2020 the Australian Financial Review estimated Palmer's net worth at AUS$9.18 billion, and ranked him as the eighth wealthiest Australian. Last year he was also charged with fraud and corporate misconduct offences related to the alleged diversion of funds in the weeks leading up to Australia's elections in 2013.

Politicians: unsuccessfully messing with Dee Snider since 1984.

See more
Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.