Bobby Prince, the composer behind the soundtracks of Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nukem 3D, and more, has filed a lawsuit against Gearbox (both Software and Publishing), its CEO Randy Pitchford, and Valve alleging that Gearbox used Prince’s compositions in a recent Duke Nukem 3D rerelease without following the proper channels, or compensating him for his work.
Prince’s lawsuit alleges that Gearbox, and specifically Pitchford, admitted that the studio lacked the license for the music, used it in Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary World Tour despite that, and later allegedly refused to remove the music from the game.
On Valve’s part, the lawsuit alleges that Valve ignored a takedown notice and continued to distribute the game on Steam after being made aware that the music used in the game wasn’t properly used or licensed.
Prince created music and sound effects for the original Duke Nukem 3D developed by Apogee back in the mid-‘90s, work done under the then-agreement that the ownership of the music would remain with its composer and that Prince would receive a royalty for its use in the original game.
Gearbox later acquired the rights to the Duke Nukem series and, years later, laid plans to rerelease Duke Nukem 3D for the 20 anniversary of the game’s 1996 release.
The lawsuit alleges that, from the get-go, Gearbox would have been aware that the music for Duke Nukem 3D was still owned by Prince, and would’ve required permission for its use. According to the document, digital files containing the music specifically note that Prince retains the copyright.
Beyond that, the lawsuit states that Prince reached out to Gearbox about music ownership, later shared a copy of the 1996 agreement between Prince and Apogee, but, despite assurances from Pitchford that he’d be “taken care of,” Prince was allegedly never compensated and the music was never properly licensed for its use in Duke Nukem 3D 20th Anniversary World Tour.