A Guitar Hero lawsuit you won't see from Kurt Cobain's estate

Activision is being sued for including a soundalike who’s too good!


Wha? How can this possibly go through?

And when they’ve won, they’ll start suing game reviewers for giving Rock the 80’s low scores (it has a metascore of 69). Because the covers are too good!

We’re one step closer to police raids at Karaoke bars.

Very interesting. I will be fascinated to see how this comes out. On the one hand, everyone’s reaction is going to be a “COFFEE IS SUPPOSED TO BE HOT YOU DUMBASS” knee-jerk. But when you sit back for a second, it’s an interesting question. Is it OK to pay them for the cheaper, lyrics-and-music license, and then use a cover artist to record something that sounds exactly like the (presumably much more expensive, and maybe with some sort of residuals needed?) original recording? Is it reasonable for the Romantics to expect that if you pay for the “cover” license, you’re going to do something that doesn’t sound exactly like the original?

I mean, I guess there are a ton of “tribute” bands out there who do this already. I have no idea whether they pay for any sorts of licenses, or just fly under the radar, or what. And I assume GH continues the tradition of “as made famous by,” which I would think seriously undercuts any claim that people will mistakenly believe it’s the real Romantics. But still, if people know it’s fake, but are buying it because it’s indistinguishable from the real thing…

On the contrary, I think the “As made famous by XYZ” message is actually worse than saying nothing because they are using the actual band name there and “as made famous” isn’t equivalent to “Not being performed by”. I mean, people who are really hardcore into GH/RB know what they mean by that but it isn’t unreasonable to think that random Joe might be confused there. In fact, I know a few people who are pretty gamer savvy (though not to the point of being game web forum regulars) that were rather surprised to learn certain songs in GH/GHII were covers.

Game company licenses song for popular video game. It’s not as though the band has to prove the developers tried to get a cover as close as possible to the original, I’m sure they’d admit it. If they’re asking the judge to issue a ruling laying out what is ‘too similar’ in the court of law, which I think they’d need to in order to have a case, it should just get thrown out. Too sketchy.

The romantics must be the only featured band who didn’t know what Guitar Hero was.
Everything was licensed properly.

RPS linked some videos.
I don’t think they sound all that close. At least not the voice. Which must mean that the
band thinks playing an instrument the way it was played in the original song is illegal…

How is it possibly smart to sue a company that has the potential for someone to play the game and perhaps realize that they might have liked one of these songs awhile back and go out and pickup this long forgotten CD???

Recording artists and/or RIAA are just plain stupid.

The RIAA has probably told them that GHIII players will either A) pirate the song or B) buy it used, since who has new Romantics CD’s anymore? Either way, no royalty.

You really think the RIAA is anti guitar hero? I mean, metallica is in the game, and they are one of the RIAA poster children.

The Romantics just sound like their reps fucked up and didn’t explain to them what they were getting into, and now they can’t be talked out of an inevitably embarassing lawsuit.

What a bunch of idiots.

Too bad they didn’t sue prior to release and get the song removed, that’s one of the most punishing tracks in the game.

if i was in a band, I’d happily let GH use any of my stuff for free. Its not like people rip the sound files from their console onto their ipods. It’s fantastic exposure for a band.
It’s their decision though.

I didn’t know who necessarily is responsible for this suit, so I just lumped them together. I think this is just plain dumb.

I don’t think it’s embarrassing. I imagine that their agreement is similar to licensing a song for a karaoke disc. I have poor taste in music, so I like to go to karaoke bars and the music played at them is always a little ‘off’. The instruments are different or something. Anyways, they never sound exactly like the real song. Because of this, I’d expect there must already be a precedent or there is part of copyright law that deals specifically with this sort of thing. Mind you, I could be completely wrong. Even if Activision is completely on the up and up, it sounds like they’re acting kinda skeevy.

It’s at times like this that I curse my ill spent youth and never followed my dream of becoming a copyright lawyer. I would have been such a hit at parties.

According to GAF (so take with a pinch of salt) the same thing happened with Killing In The Name Of on GH2. Rage Against the Machine complained that the cover version was too good so Harmonix had to re-record a less authentic version.


I guess I can see their point: a license to cover a song is probably different (not to mention cheaper) from licensing a recording. I know fuck all about this stuff, but I can see artists thinking that if you acquired a (cheaper) license to cover a song but try to exactly remake a certain successful execution of a song, you should have just gotten a license to use the original recording in the first place.

On the other hand: do Elvis imitators get sued for doing the pelvis thrust to Hound Dog?

The only safe response is to do a recall and hire these guys to rerecord the cover.

This seems silly to me, but I can’t imagine that the cost of pulling the 80s CDs and re-releasing them would hurt Activision much. Is anyone still buying GH 80s?