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First off today, Samuel Horti at PC Gamer reports that video game composer Bobby Prince has filed a lawsuit against Gearbox Software, the company’s chief executive Randy Pitchford and Valve claiming that Gearbox used his music in a game without his permission and without providing proper compensation.
Prince has a lengthy history as a composer and has created music for the original Doom, Doom 2, Wolfenstein 3D and, most relevant to today, the original Duke Nukem 3D. However, according to Prince, he did not assign the copyright to the game’s developers, Apogee Software, and instead worked out a license where they could use his music in exchange for a royalty of $1 per unit sold.
Gearbox purchased certain rights to Duke Nukem from Apogee in 2010 and, in 2016, released Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour, an update to the classic shooter. However, according to Prince, they did not obtain his permission or pay him owed royalties. This despite the fact that Gearbox was aware of the license requirement and that Prince allegedly received a promise from Pitchford to make things right. Valve is being sued for ignoring a DMCA notice filed by Prince and continuing to allow the game being sold on its Steam platform despite being aware of the copyright issues.
Next up today, Jim Bronskill at The Canadian press reports that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled against a surveying company, saying that plans created by the company and submitted to a government registry office had had their copyright transferred to the provincial government.
The lawsuit was filed by Keatley Surveying Ltd, who was seeking class action status, against Teranet Inc. Teranet had been working with the Ontario government to create a land-registry database that involved digitizing plans that were submitted to the province. Keatley claimed that this was a copyright infringement but struck out in the lower courts.
Those decisions were upheld by the Supreme Court, which found that Keatley, as well as other survey companies, transferred the copyright in their plans when they registered them. Since the province is the copyright holder, according to the courts, Keatley does not have a cause to bring the action.
Finally today, Tatiana Cirisano at Billboard reports that a federal judge has approved a request by the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) to double the requested damages in their case against Peloton to $300 million after the NMPA said it became aware of additional tracks that the company allegedly infringed.
Peloton is a company that sells high-end exercise equipment along with a subscription service that lets users access virtual classes via the devices. However, according to the NMPA, Peloton used NMPA-licensed music in those classes without first obtaining the needed licenses. Because of this, the NMPA filed a $150 million lawsuit targeting the use of some 1,000 songs.
However, after learning about what it considers additional infringement, Peloton has filed an amended complaint that doubles that amount to $300 million and 2,000 songs. They have now received approval from the judge in the case for that increase. The lawsuit has put a major damper on Peloton’s IPO and the music licensing issue was listed as one of the biggest risk factors in investing with the company.