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Duke Nukem 3D composer suing Gearbox over the game’s music

Gearbox didn’t purchase the game’s music when it acquired Duke Nukem 3D, according to the suit

A monster in Duke Nukem 3D 3D Realms/Gearbox Software

Composer Bobby Prince is suing Gearbox and its CEO, Randy Pitchford, for using the Duke Nukem 3D music without proper acquisition. Valve Corporation is also being sued for distributing Duke Nukem 3D World Tour on Steam and allegedly ignoring a takedown notice from Prince. The composer is asking for “maximum statutory damages per infringement.”

Prince composed the music for Duke Nukem 3D, which was released in 1996, and its sound effects and “dialog recordings,” according to the lawsuit filed in Tennessee court over the weekend. The suit was first reported by PC Gamer. Music was licensed through Duke Nukem’s original developer, Apogee, Prince alleges in the lawsuit. The agreement gave the developer “limited right” to using Prince’s copyrighted music “in exchange for a royalty equal to $1 per unit sold.”

Developer Apogee never owned Duke Nukem 3D’s music, so when Gearbox acquired rights to the Duke Nukem games in 2010, the music didn’t go with it, Prince alleges. When Prince learned that Gearbox would publish Duke Nukem 3D World Tour, the 20th anniversary edition of the game, he contacted Pitchford “and informed him that Gearbox would need to send him royalties” should it use the Duke Nukem 3D music Prince composed. Pitchford reportedly responded that it would be “taken care of,” according to the filing.

Duke Nukem 3D World Tour was released on Oct. 11, 2016. Prince alleges he’s not received royalties for use of the music in the released game, despite Gearbox apparently knowing about the music’s ownership. Prince says a takedown notice was issued to Valve on Feb. 8, 2018 and was subsequently ignored. Prince is looking for “maximum statutory damages per infringement,” or “actual damages” and Gearbox’s profits, as well as attorney’s fees and “an injunction prohibiting [Gearbox and Valve] from infringing his copyrights.”

Neither Gearbox nor Valve have responded to Polygon’s inquiry before publication time.

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