Jazz star Jacques Loussier goes head to head with rapper Eminem

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The American rap artist Eminem is being sued for up to £7m damages by the French jazz pianist Jacques Loussier, who claims that the performer stole one of his tunes.

Loussier is claiming in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed in New York that Eminem's best-selling song "Kill You" is strikingly similar to his jazz fusion instrumental number, "Pulsion". He wants a ban on the broadcast of "Kill You," which comes from Eminem's hit album, The Marshall Mathers LP; a halt to all sales of the recording, and the destruction of all copies still on the market.

The lawsuit, lodged in the US District Court in Manhattan before Easter, also names the rapper's label, Interscope Records, and its parent company, Vivendi Universal Music Group, as defendants. Loussier claims that Eminem "wilfully infringed plaintiff's rights by reproducing, displaying, manufacturing ... and selling work without the permission, licence or consent of plaintiff".

Copyright infringements can be costly, whether the theft was conscious or intended. The late George Harrison's 1970 hit song "My Sweet Lord" landed him in a long court battle when the publisher of the 1963 single "He's So Fine", by The Chiffons, sued him for plagiarism.

Harrison argued that any similarity between the songs was "unconscious". The judge accepted that defence but still ruled against the former Beatle on the grounds of copyright infringement.

The Eminem album, which takes its title from Eminem's real name, Marshall Bruce Mathers III, has been a worldwide hit and won the 2001 Grammy for best rap album.

"Kill You" was one of the most popular songs on the record but is also one of his more controversial. The song includes lyrics about killing women and refers to O J Simpson, the American footballer-turned-actor who was cleared of killing his wife, in the line: "I'm ready to play, I got the machete from O J."

Loussier, 67, is best known for composing and performing music that combines jazz with rock, electronic sounds and elements from classical composers such as Vivaldi and Bach. The pianist has sold millions of albums over the years, with his first group, the Play Bach Trio, alone selling more than 6 million. He has a recording studio in the south of France that has been used by artists including Pink Floyd, Elton John and Sting.