UK music company EMI is taking the creators of 2010’s Def Jam Rapstar to court in an effort to collect over $8 million in alleged damages from the use of unlicensed songs.
The lawsuit, spotted by the Hollywood Reporter, was filed last week in New York. It accuses Def Jam Rapstar publisher 4mm Games and developer Terminal Reality of failing to properly obtain rights to 54 songs that were owned in part by EMI. The list of offending tracks include Lil Wayne’s “Got Money”, which EMI is laying claim to 30%, DJ Khalid’s “I’m So Hood”, which EMI is claiming 10% ownership, and MIMS’s “This is Why I’m Hot”, which the company is claiming 16% ownership. Songs from Kanye West, DMX, and Daft Punk (which was sampled by Kanye West in “Stronger”) were also named in the suit.
EMI is asking for $150,000 per song, meaning 4mm Games and Terminal Reality could be in the hole for $8.1 million. EMI is also seeking to skim money from the game’s net profits, and further damages caused by Def Jam Rapstar’s “party mode” feature, which let players use EMI’s partly-owned songs to make videos of themselves and share their “talents” with the world.
Whether EMI has a case or not remains to be seen. Regardless, let this be a lesson to you, future rap karaoke game makers; if you’re going to make a niche music game, make sure you do the paper work.