Duke Nukem 3D composer sues Gearbox and Valve

Duke Nukem 3D composer Robert C. Prince is suing Valve, Gearbox, and its president Randy Pitchford for alleged inappropriate use of Prince’s music in Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour.

Prince created music and sound effects for many popular games, including Doom, Doom 2, Wolfenstein 3D, and Duke Nukem 3D. His music also features in Duke Nukem 3D World Tour. However, he claims that Gearbox used it without obtaining a license or compensating him for his work, while refusing to remove it from the game.

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Prince is suing Valve as well, claiming that Gabe Newell’s company knowingly distributed infringing copies of his music. This is obviously related to the Steam distribution platform, where Duke Nukem 3D World Tour has been available for purchase since October 2016. Prince submitted a takedown notice that Valve allegedly ignored, and “continued distributing infringing copies of the music despite knowing that Mr. Prince owned the copyrights in the music.”

The lawsuit says that the electronic files for the music in Duke Nukem 3D World Tour include music that specifically states that Prince is the copyright owner, but Gearbox never got in touch with him and failed to clear the rights in the files.

Before the game released, Prince contacted Pitchford informing that the use of his music would be subject to royalties, something to which Pitchford replied that it would be “taken care of.” This didn’t happen, despite Gearbox’s Head of Publishing Steve Gibson being instructed to “do right.”

Allegedly, both Pitchford and Gibson acknowledged that Gearbox didn’t have the rights to use Prince’s music, but the studio didn’t pay the requested royalties or make any effort to remove the infringing music from Duke Nukem 3D World Tour.

Duke Nukem 3D composer Robert C. Prince is demanding a trial by jury and compensation for damages per infringement in a lawsuit filed on September 27, 2019.