In context: It’s been over 20 years since Duke Nukem 3D was released, but the composer of its music is launching a lawsuit against Gearbox Software, chief executive Randy Pitchford, and Valve. The suit isn’t regarding the original game, though; it’s related to the 2016 release of Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary Edition World Tour.
Bobby Prince, who also wrote the music for Doom, Doom 2, and Wolfenstein 3D, composed16 songs for 1996’s Duke Nukem 3D under an agreement with the game’s original developer, Apogee. As noted in a document submitted to the US court (via PC Gamer), Apogee had a limited right to use Prince’s music in Duke Nukem 3D in exchange for a royalty equal to $1 per unit sold. Prince had also registered the copyrights for the songs.
The situation became complicated after Gearbox Software bought some of the rights to the Duke Nukem games in 2010. Prince claims that when Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour released in 2016, Gearbox included his music without his permission or paying royalties.
"The electronic files for the music within Duke Nukem 3D World Tour include text specifically stating that Mr. Prince owns the copyright to the music and has reserved all rights to the music’s use," the court document states. "Yet Gearbox incorporated the music into the game without ever contacting Mr Prince and without clearing the rights expressly mentioned in the electronic files."
Prince said he did contact Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford to request royalties for the updated game, but despite being told he’d be “taken care of,” the composer never received any money. Furthermore, Pitchford "refused to remove the music from the game."
Valve has also been dragged into the suit. Prince says the company ignored a takedown notice and continued distributing copies of the game on Steam.
Gearbox Publishing, Randy Pitchford and Valve have been given 21 days to respond.