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Guns N' Roses singer files $20m lawsuit against Activision

Wed 24 Nov 2010 8:29am GMT / 3:29am EST / 12:29am PST
Legal

Axl Rose accuses publisher of fraud over Guitar Hero's use of former guitarist Slash

Activision Publishing

Activision, Inc. is a leading international publisher of interactive entertainment software products....

activision.com

Axl Rose, the colourful lead singer of venerable rock band Guns N' Roses, has accused Activision of violating licensing terms for the use of his music in Guitar Hero III.

The vocalist had agreed that the game could include the track Welcome To The Jungle only following reassurances that former colleague Slash would not appear in the game.

Rose has been determined for some years that the band should no longer be associated with Slash (real name Saul Hudson), who exited the group in 1996.

Despite alleged promises to contrary, the guitarist's top-hatted likeness went on to appear on the game's cover and as a prominent in-game character, in some instances with Welcome To The Jungle playing in the background.

Rose thus filed a $20 million breach of contract suit against Activision yesterday, claiming the publisher owed him this in "wrongfully acquired profits."

In court documents acquired by Radar Online, the singer claimed that, following online rumour that Slash would appear in-game, he was told by executive vice-president of Music Affairs Tim Riley that "You know you can't believe everything you read on the internet."

Following the game's release, "Activision engaged in negotiations with Guns N' Roses' manager... in a calculated effort to forestall or prevent a lawsuit", including suggesting a game based upon the band's last album Chinese Democracy.

Rose also claims that Riley came to him in tears, claiming "I can't sleep at night."

The signer has filed six actions in total, including breach of contract, unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation and fraud.

Rose's lawsuit also claimed that "No other rock song could more perfectly capture this transformative spirit and Faustian bargain theme of GH III than 'Welcome To The Jungle," referring to the game's climactic boss battle against a demonic producer.

21 Comments

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,178 1,127 0.5
Uh wait... Axl OWNED Slash? There's a mean joke in there somewhere, but I'm too tired to dig it up.

(exits, stage left ... singing "You Will be Mine" of course...)

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Alfonso Sexto
Lead Tester

813 643 0.8
Last time I played the game (like 2 years ago) I remember quite sure that "Welcome to the Jungle" plays in the "Jail Riot" level. Slash does not play that song either.

But anyway... isn't two years later too much time? how many more artist are gonna follow Courtney Love's example?

Posted:3 years ago

#2

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,178 1,127 0.5
^ Uh wait... Axl has implants?

Hey, the guy needs some money I'd gather (especially given how well Chinese Democracy did in terms of sales, if not real-life implementation, Ha. Ha.)

Posted:3 years ago

#3

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

661 271 0.4
@Greg,

Maybe they meant "you could be mine" :P And now they got him :D

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,178 1,127 0.5
^Eh, I'd call him Axel or Axle if I could get a half laugh out of it. My miss-pelling stands! Huzzah!

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Kevin Clark-Patterson
Lecturer in Games Development

292 27 0.1
#6

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
A contract is a contract!

Posted:3 years ago

#7

Josef Brett
Animator

296 0 0.0
How long ago did Guitar Hero 3 come out? Has he only just noticed?

Doesn't Slash just play the guitar battle bits? I thought that was all he played, unless you buy him. Like i said though, it's a while since I looked at this game!

Posted:3 years ago

#8

Dave Clements
Artist

1 0 0.0
Does confuse me. Not the fact that Axl has filed a suit. Sure, if he agreed something and something else happened ... he deserves to win. But the fact that he actually said Slash can't appear in the game in the first place?! Slash wrote the freaking song!!!! And in fact, still co-owns the rights to the music!

Posted:3 years ago

#9

James Ingrams
Writer

215 85 0.4
Josef - you get years of negotiation and if you end up in court that's a failure really. Hence the long time to bring this to court.

Posted:3 years ago

#10

Thomas Dolby
Project Manager / Lead Programmer

335 283 0.8
"including suggesting a game based upon the band's last album Chinese Democracy"

Oh wow, Activision were seriously considering making a game for him just to keep him happy? I'm not quite sure what to say about that...

Posted:3 years ago

#11

Ryan Locke
Lecturer in Media Design

60 16 0.3
his famous hissy-fits know no bounds. Games industry beware, we have a diva rock star in our midst!

Posted:3 years ago

#12

Bruce Nesbit
Programmer

7 0 0.0
Presumably Axl will be giving all monies from GnR albums featuring slash to charity as well as stopping the presses on any new prints ?

Posted:3 years ago

#13

Alex Loffstadt
Community Manager

84 0 0.0
The length of time this has taken to hit court doesn't surprise me.
Law, particularly contract law can take ages which is why it's in the perview of people who have the money to throw around.

Mr. Rose is notorious for having driven GnR into the ground. Velvet Revolver is pretty much GnR with the vocalist from Stone Temple Pilots. If Axl and Slash co-own the rights I suspect that it means they both have to agree how the music is used as opposed to being able to do anything they like. If ActiBliz have any sense they'll settle quietly, unless they decide to blow the thing out of proportion as Guitar Hero and Mr Rose can likely do with the press.

Posted:3 years ago

#14

Andrzej Wroblewski
Localization Generalist

102 69 0.7
IMHO, if the contract contains a severance clause, Activision could go for deeming the clause in question unenforceable, because the matter could actually damage the equal right of both Axl and Slash to enter agreements... Anyway, in my humble opinion, Axl can only sue Activision for special damages...

Posted:3 years ago

#15

Jamie Watson
Studying Bachelor of Games & Interactive Entertainment

179 0 0.0
as far as im concered GNR is slash,axel etc (aka "classic" linup)
but thats axel for ya if something doesnt go his way hell sue ya,just like gene simmons...

ill stick with rock band from now on...

Posted:3 years ago

#16

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,178 1,127 0.5
Heh. Now I really, REALLY want to see that game idea for Chinese Democracy. Makes one wonder if musical guest stars or music from Lil' Kim, Bush, Talking Heads and Simple Minds would be on the soundtrack as well...

(ba dum bum, pssh!)

Posted:3 years ago

#17

Graham Simpson
Tea boy

219 7 0.0
Axl has forgotten that they make one of their 3 current guitarists 'DJ Ashaba' dress up as Slash including wearing the big hat, have the fag hanging out the mouth and adopt the Slash poses throughout the concert. So the ATVI lawyers will use the defence that given Axl has a Slash lookalike on stage now is it not unreasonable not to expect one in the game.

On a plus side I'd play a Chinese Democracy GH game. That's got some great songs on it though a Appetite for Destruction GH would the game killer

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Graham Simpson on 25th November 2010 8:10am

Posted:3 years ago

#18

Alex Loffstadt
Community Manager

84 0 0.0
@Graham "On a plus side I'd play a Chinese Democracy GH game. That's got some great songs on it" well considering it took almost as long as Duke Nukem Forever to make you'd hope Axl could come up with some good songs during a decade of writing.

Posted:3 years ago

#19

Kevin Clark-Patterson
Lecturer in Games Development

292 27 0.1
"Guitar Hero: Guns N' Roses 80's & 90's Hits"

Yes please!!!

Chinese Democracy could be DLC for all I care (20 years in the failing)

Posted:3 years ago

#20

Josef Brett
Animator

296 0 0.0
@James
Hadn't realised how long these things take - cheers.

on the subject of GnR games, as long as they steer well clear of Spaghetti Incident I'll be more than happy.

Posted:3 years ago

#21

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