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Back in October 2007, Activision Blizzard, Inc., a leading international developer, publisher, and distributor of interactive games, released its third version of popular video game Guitar Hero(R), titled, Guitar Hero(R) III: Legends of Rock(TM) (“GH III“). The game (featuring hits from legendary artists such Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, and Pearl Jam) was immediately a huge success, bringing in $115 million in the first seven days it was available.
Still, the game hit a sour note with Axl Rose, lead singer of rock group Guns N’ Roses. He filed a lawsuit Tuesday, November 23 against the company for $20 million. Legends of Rock(TM) features the well-known Guns N’ Roses (“GnR”) song “Welcome to the Jungle.” Rose claims he authorized use of the song only after being assured that no images of the band’s ex-guitarist Saul Hudson (known by fans as “Slash”) would appear on the game. Rose was therefore outraged to see his ex-bandmate front and center (with his characteristic black top hat) on GH III‘s cover. He’s asking for $20 million out of the sales of the game, claiming fraud in the inducement of his agreement with Activision.
Proving fraud will not be like playing a song in Easy Mode, particularly if no anti-Slash condition is included in the contract, and especially if there is an express provision disclaiming that Rose could rely on such representations. If Activision does face the music and settle, it has some pretty deep pockets with which to do so; its latest version of Call of Duty: Black Ops grossed $650 million in the first five days it was released, setting a new record that was previously held by the game’s last version.
Regardless, Rose knew since his band’s first album that the music industry was a jungle; either he’s singing a different tune now, or else he just still has an “Appetite for Destruction.”
– Andrea Verney
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