"The Wanderer" singer sues ZeniMax over use of his song in "repugnant" Fallout 4 ads

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

Remember the excellent Fallout 4 cinematic ads that were everywhere around the time its late-2015 release? They captured the mood of the post-apocalyptic game perfectly, especially through the use of Dion DiMucci's 1961 hit “The Wanderer.” But it seems the singer didn’t approve of his music appearing in the commercials, which he calls “repugnant,” and is suing Bethesda parent company ZeniMax over its use.

In a recent filing made with a California court, DiMucci claims his agreement with record label Universal Music Group allows him the right of refusal and the right to bargain for a licensing fee when his track is used for marketing purposes. The singer says this never happened in the case of the Fallout 4 ads, and that he wouldn’t have allowed his music to be used because they feature “repugnant and morally indefensible images.”

"Defendant’s Commercials were objectionable because they featured repeated homicides in a dark, dystopian landscape, where violence is glorified as sport," the court documents read. "The killings and physical violence were not to protect innocent life, but instead were repugnant and morally indefensible images designed to appeal to young consumers."

DiMucci says if he had seen the commercials before they aired, he would have tried to change their direction to focus on a "post-apocalyptic struggle for survival without craven violence."

The singer is seeking $1 million in damages From ZeniMax and wants the ads removed from YouTube, where “their continued presence is an ongoing irreparable injury.”

ZeniMax is no stranger to a courtroom. Despite winning $500 million in its lawsuit against Oculus VR earlier this year, that particular legal battle is still ongoing. It’s also being sued for $22.5 million by Id Software co-founder John Carmack and is suing Samsung over the use of Oculus technology in the Gear VR headset.

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davislane1

I don't agree with his assessment, as the ads I've seen depict mostly self-defense. However, it's refreshing to see a celebrity making headlines with traditional values for a change.
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
The company failed to pay him royalties???? With as much money as they make on these games??? The song isn't in the Public Domain ..... makes you wonder what kind of rinky dink operation Bethesda and their parent company ZeniMax are? Sheeezzzzzzzeeeee .... what a bunch of amateurs!
 
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erickmendes

TS Evangelist
I don't agree with his assessment, as the ads I've seen depict mostly self-defense. However, it's refreshing to see a celebrity making headlines with traditional values for a change.
Using traditional values to defend a music about laying down with various women... You are being sarcastic right?
Clearly he is just one more person trying to milk the old Fallout cow one more time (like Fallout own's producers...).

Zenimax's gains with DLC is the real crime here...
 
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davislane1

Using traditional values to defend a music about laying down with various women... You are being sarcastic right?
I strongly recommend reading up on American culture if you think I missed a sarcasm tag.
 

erickmendes

TS Evangelist
I strongly recommend reading up on American culture if you think I missed a sarcasm tag.
Missing on translation lol... Now I read again... "for a change..."
Tech reading is fine, but chating outside your native language can be challenging sometimes.
 

Burty117

TechSpot Chancellor
"DiMucci claims his agreement with record label Universal Music Group allows him the right of refusal and the right to bargain for a licensing fee when his track is used for marketing purposes. The singer says this never happened in the case of the Fallout 4 ads"

Hold on, to me, this reads that Bethesda spoke to Universal Music and got authorized but they didn't bring it up with Dion?
 

kapital98

TS Guru
The company failed to pay him royalties???? With as much money as they make on these games??? The song isn't in the Public Domain ..... makes you wonder what kind of rinky dink operation Bethesda and their parent company ZeniMax are? Sheeezzzzzzzeeeee .... what a bunch of amateurs!
He got paid royalties pursuant to the contract he has with the music distributor. It's the right of refusal for marketing purposes that he's complaining about. Take Johnny Cash. If him or his estate had foresight do you think they would have allowed "Ring of Fire" to be used in hemorrhoid commercials?

Who knows if this suit has any merit. Either way, the damage has been done. If even he's successful he'll be paid a small sum, it won't go to trial, and the ads will be taken off youtube. Considering how big Fallout 4 was, and continues to be, they didn't lose even if they have to pay him.
 
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Misagt

TS Evangelist
Perhaps there are other ads that were more voilent that the one shown here. But this ad I didn't think showed anything really objectionable. I think you had was 3 secs worth of shooting total. Although I'd like to think this guy is doing this for the right reasons. I'm think it's more of a cash grab. Considering it's coming almost 2 years after the release of the game. If this guy was really concerned about it you'd think he would of raised a stink on social media the moment it came out. That would of probably done more to get Zenimax to change then a lawsuit. Which leaves me thinking this guy is short on cash and looking for a payday. I hope it's not the case but it probably is.
 

JudasSheep

TS Booster
The company failed to pay him royalties???? With as much money as they make on these games??? The song isn't in the Public Domain ..... makes you wonder what kind of rinky dink operation Bethesda and their parent company ZeniMax are? Sheeezzzzzzzeeeee .... what a bunch of amateurs!
I don't see anything related to royalties that Bethesda owes this singer in the article. I see that "Universal Music Group allows him the right of refusal and the right to bargain for a licensing fee when his track is used for marketing purposes" but that should be between Universal and the artist. They gave Bethesda permission to use the song, not Bethesda's fault Universal didn't notify the singer. Hell FO4 has been out for a pretty long time and he is just getting around to this lawsuit? Seems he needs better communication with his label.
 
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davislane1

Missing on translation lol... Now I read again... "for a change..."
Tech reading is fine, but chating outside your native language can be challenging sometimes.
Didn't realize you were from Brazil. Back in Dion's day, violence existed in entertainment but it was more suggestive than explicit (think spaghetti westerns vs modern action flicks). Sex was the same thing. You could imply it all day, but there was an acceptible limit.

It was the difference between this (from "The Wanderer"):

Oh well, there's Flo on my left and then there's Mary on my right
And Janie is the girl well that I’ll be with tonight
And when she asks me, which one I love the best?
I tear open my shirt and I show "Rosie" on my chest


...and this (from "Feelings" - Maroon 5):

You and me let's go all night
Going so high, we f*ck the sky
Come with me now, f*ck that guy
(Look at her, look at her oh)
Now you flash that sexy smile
And tell me I've got to wait a while
And it makes me lose my mind
(Look at her, look at her oh)


Dion's offence is a throwback to a less vulgar and decadent time, which was more to my point. It's why I didn't /s tag the post.

Edit: I assume you gathered all this after rereading. Wrote it out for the benefit of anyone else who might expect that post to be sarcastic.

Shooting a cockroach and a mutant?
He wrote a song about enjoying life and women. They used it to lighten the mood of a game premised on nuclear holocaust and murder (e.g. Super Mutants, bandits, etc. killing folks). To most of us, who have been raised on a mixture of Mortal Kombat, Terminator, Rambo, etc., it's not a big deal. To someone from his era it's fairly significant.

Different value system, different perception.
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
Wouldn't it be the record' labels responsibility to contact the artist as they are the ones handling legal distribution? So shouldn't Mr. Dion be suing Universal Music Group as they didn't perform their diligent duty per their contract?
 
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SirDigby

TS Evangelist
Platinum
Shouldn't he be suing Universal Music Group for not offering him the chance to refuse, and then part of that would be to for Zenimax to pull the adds, as seemingly -they- haven't done anything wrong, they contacted UMG to use the song....
+ Took this guy long enough to complain about it.... 1 1/2 years after the game was released.
 

Adhmuz

TechSpot Paladin
Take Johnny Cash. If him or his estate had foresight do you think they would have allowed "Ring of Fire" to be used in hemorrhoid commercials?
Wait that song isn't about hemorrhoids to begin with??? Crap, I think I need to go listen to that song.
 

erickmendes

TS Evangelist
Didn't realize you were from Brazil. Back in Dion's day, violence existed in entertainment but it was more suggestive than explicit (think spaghetti westerns vs modern action flicks). Sex was the same thing. You could imply it all day, but there was an acceptible limit.

Oh well, there's Flo on my left and then there's Mary on my right
And Janie is the girl well that I’ll be with tonight
And when she asks me, which one I love the best?
I tear open my shirt and I show "Rosie" on my chest


Different value system, different perception.
Oh, now I really see your point, he really must be disgusted with the use of his music in a game like Fallout, it's really out of his cultural context. And knowing how Music Industry threat people (be it in USA or here in Brazil), I think he must really be serious about it...
Thank's for taking your time to point things out, davislane1.
 

HiDDeNMisT

TS Booster
I didn't really see any real blood or violence in this ad. The guy just shot at the Mutants but none of them died or even got shot really. I don't know what he is talking about but if Bethesda really didn't pay him for his work, that just low.
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
I don't see anything related to royalties that Bethesda owes this singer in the article. I see that "Universal Music Group allows him the right of refusal and the right to bargain for a licensing fee when his track is used for marketing purposes" but that should be between Universal and the artist. They gave Bethesda permission to use the song, not Bethesda's fault Universal didn't notify the singer. Hell FO4 has been out for a pretty long time and he is just getting around to this lawsuit? Seems he needs better communication with his label.
Not sure about his specific contract but these were made long before video games and there have been several cases where the plaintiff successfully argued for separate compensation so he's got a pretty good shot. I believe the claim is (surprisingly) under intellectual property use. Why wait? Probably wanted to allow for a good bit of sales in order to set his upper limit on compensation, but that's just a guess.
 

BrianMontanye

TS Booster
I didn't really see any real blood or violence in this ad. The guy just shot at the Mutants but none of them died or even got shot really. I don't know what he is talking about but if Bethesda really didn't pay him for his work, that just low.
I would think the record company is at fault here, not Bethesda. If they didn't acquire the rights from the record company to use the song, there would be a different lawsuit already in play for this, initiated by the record company. Since we don't see that, I am assuming Bethesda did the proper routine in getting permission.
 
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oranuro

TS Enthusiast
Funny thing is. The mentioning of the story will sell even more copies of Fallout 4!!( great game by the way )
 

psycros

TS Evangelist
Dion peaked half a decade before portraying everything ironically became cool so it kind of makes sense he'd be offended. But I suspect he didn't have a clue about this until a third rate lawyer oozed under the door and got him all worked up about it.
 
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GeforcerFX

TS Evangelist
Hmm I don't seem much "senseless" violence there, I doubt the person has ever played fallout and knows the setting, but dealing with super mutants and rad roaches that are always aggressive to the character is part of playing the game.