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EMI sues Def Jam Rapstar devs over song rights

Record label giant EMI filed a lawsuit last week against 4mm Games and Terminal Reality, claiming that the companies did not acquire the rights for songs used in video game Def Jam Rapstar.
Record label giant EMI filed a lawsuit in a New York federal court last week against 4mm Games and Terminal Reality, claiming that the companies did not acquire the rights for a number of songs used in video game Def Jam Rapstar. Def Jam Rapstar was released for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii at the end of 2010, and invites players to rap along with popular songs. A sequel is apparently in the works. According to the Hollywood Reporter, EMI's complaint alleges that songs by rap artists such as Kanye West, DMX and Lil Wayne were used in Def Jam Rapstar without permission. EMI is claiming part-ownership of the allegedly infringed works, and says it contacted the developers of the game about the need for the rights to the songs and royalties, but that it was ignored. In total, the label says that 54 songs were infringed as part of Def Jam Rapstar, and it is looking for statutory damages of $150,000 for each song infringed, representing a lawsuit potentially worth more than $8 million for the company. The company also claims that the game infringes on its karaoke rights, since it owns the rights to distribute, display and publicly perform the songs, and the game allows players to create playlists and video themselves singing to the tracks. Gamasutra has contacted 4mm Games and Terminal Reality for comment.

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