The creators of the music game Def Jam Rapstar are the target of a lawsuit filed by music giant EMI. According to the Hollywood Reporter (thanks Andrew Eisen), EMI filed a lawsuit in New York federal court last week alleging substantial damages from the use of unlicensed songs (from the likes of Kanye West, DMX, Lil Wayne, and more) in the video game Def Jam Rapstar. The game was developed jointly by 4mm Games and Terminal Reality – both are named as co-defendants in the lawsuit.
According to the complaint filed by EMI in Federal Court, the company notified the game's developers that its rights on certain songs had been infringed and that some sort of agreement or settlement was needed to compensate EMI for royalties. EMI claims that these demands went unanswered.
The complaint lists 54 songs that EMI claims were infringed upon, and it is seeking statutory damages of $150,000 for each work infringed. The company also claims the rights to "distribute, display, and publicly perform" the songs, so further monetary damages could be in the pipeline. The Hollywood reporter also points out that the lawsuit could be worth more than $8 million – not including "the game's net profits, which plaintiffs also demand."
The odd part of this story is that EMI is claiming only part ownership on many of the songs and in varying degrees; for example, it claims it owns 10 percent of DJ Khaled's "I'm So Hood," 16 percent ownership of MIMS' "This Is Why I'm Hot," and 30 percent ownership of Lil Wayne's "Got Money." How this ownership percentage is translated by the court remains to be seen.