This is Niche Culture. In this column, we regularly cover anime, geek culture, and things related to video games. Please leave feedback and let us know if there’s something you want us to cover!
Bobby Prince- the composer for Doom, Doom II: Hell on Earth, Wolfenstein 3D, and Duke Nukem 3D– has issued a lawsuit against multiple parties. These include Gearbox Software, the company’s CEO Randy Pitchford, and Valve.
The lawsuit (which you can read here via Bloomberg Law) proposes that Prince’s work was used in Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour without his consent or compensation.
It claims Pitchford “admitted that Mr. Prince created and owns the music and that Gearbox had no license.” Valve is also being blamed for “distributed infringing copies of Mr. Prince’s music,” even after a alleged takedown notice was issued.
The issue comes from the agreement between Prince and Apogee Software, Ltd. in 1996 for music in Duke Nukem 3D, and Prince later claiming copyright on his work.
“Pursuant to a Software Publishing Agreement with Apogee, Apogee had a limited right to use Mr. Prince’s music in Duke Nukem 3D in exchange for a royalty equal to $1 per unit sold.
Mr. Prince registered the copyrights for his music in 1996 and received Certificate of Registration SR221-908. All sixteen songs Mr. Prince registered were included in Duke Nukem 3D.
In 1996, Apogee released Duke Nukem 3D, which included 16 copyrighted songs, sound effects, and edited dialog created by Mr. Prince.
Apogee never owned the music Mr. Prince composed and that was included in Duke Nukem 3D.”
Even with Gearbox acquiring the rights of Duke Nukem, this means that Prince’s music was not owned by Apogee. The lawsuit claims Prince was never contacted when this transition took place.
The lawsuit also claims that “Incredibly, the electronic files for the music within Duke Nukem 3D World Tour include text specifically stating that Mr. Prince owns the copyright to the music and has reserved all rights to the music’s use. Yet Gearbox incorporated the music into the game without ever contacting Mr. Prince and without clearing the rights expressly mentioned in the electronic files.”
On October 6th, 2016, Prince allegedly contacted Pitchford- informing them of his address for royalties and a copy of the agreement between Prince and Apogee. Pitchford allegedly replied, stating Prince would be “taken care of.” Despite this, payments did not allegedly arrive.
Later, Pitchford allegedly asked Steve Gibson (Gearbox Publishing’s Head of Publishing) “to make sure that Gearbox was “doing right” by Mr. Prince.” Allegedly, there was still no payment to Prince. This continued even after an alleged discussion between Prince, Pitchford and Gibson; where it was acknowledged Mr. Prince owned the music made for Duke Nukem 3D, that it was used in World Tour, and that Gearbox had allegedly no licence to use the music.
The plaintiffs have been given 21 days to respond to the summons.
Pitchford has been dealing with ongoing legal proceedings alleging he diverted company funds to a personal account. At the end of August he was charged with contempt of court. Valve meanwhile has decided to fight against an anti-trust lawsuit from the EU (while five other game companies settled). It will also be appealing against a Paris Court’s ruling that users should be allowed to resell their games.