OT- Likeness, who can explain this one

BrianAK wrote on 11/23/2007, 7:38 AM
Are they saying, yes you have permission to use the song, but your version was too good? Seems odd, and that it would scare others away from using their music.

DETROIT, Michigan (AP) -- The Romantics have filed a federal lawsuit against Activision Inc., the maker of "Guitar Hero," saying the popular video game infringes on the band's rights by featuring a soundalike recording of its 1980 hit "What I Like About You."

"Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s" features a soundalike recording of The Romantics hit "What I Like About You."

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in the group's hometown of Detroit, seeks unspecified damages.

The song is one of about 30 songs featured on "Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the '80s."

The band also is seeking an injunction that could take the best-selling game off store shelves.

A copyright claim is not the issue for the Romantics.

The band's attorneys tell the Detroit Free Press for Thursday's edition that Activision properly secured permission to use "What I Like About You," allowing it to record a cover version.

But they say by creating an imitation so much like the Romantics' original, the California-based company infringed on the group's rights to its own likeness.


Spot|DSE wrote on 11/23/2007, 8:12 AM
Joe Jackson underwent something marginally similar, but it was him that sounded like....'him."

If the song sounds so close to the original as to present the impression that it was recorded by the original band, it steals their likeness. No "artist" would ever want to record a song that sounded so much like XXXX that they'd be confused with XXXX, there's no artistry involved in that, IMO.
But for a Guitar Hero game, you'd think it should be fairly close.
BrianAK wrote on 11/23/2007, 8:16 AM

Would you say this kind of issue is something that is generally understood when licensing music, that the re-creation must not be so similiar to the original, or do you think that its on a case by case basis as stated by the owner.
TGS wrote on 11/23/2007, 11:59 AM
Personally, I think the bands attorneys smell a buck. Why should they care about a game? Or are they afraid that people will use this music as if it's the original? Meaning, will people actually use this, as 'good enough' to fool most that we don't need the original anymore?
I don't care how good somebody imitates somebody else, I WANT THE ORIGINAL, myself. I would never buy a version that sounds exactly like the original, just because it's a little cheaper. I don't know anybody that wants an imitation. So the only argument I see here is, the attorneys see a loophole to make a buck. Just what I'd expect from those con-artist, snake, law abiding, crooks.
TheHappyFriar wrote on 11/23/2007, 2:14 PM
But for a Guitar Hero game, you'd think it should be fairly close.

That's what I thought when I read it. Would they prefer a version so bad people say "man, that band must suck."?

I thought they used the originals. Guess I was wrong! Now when I hear a great guitar-hero song I'm not going to say "man, that's a kick ass song!" I'll say "man, that remake sounds better then the origional!"
Spot|DSE wrote on 11/23/2007, 2:28 PM
I'd suggest it's a case-by-case scenario.
The artistic point of any remake has generally been "Damn, that's a good song, I'd like to put my spin on it." The most recorded song in world history is "Yesterday" by the Beatles. I've heard dozens of versions, but never one that could remotely make me think "Wow, did the Beatles cover their own song?"
It's about spin, personality, etc. I've covered a few songs on my albums, but obviously never did they sound just like the original.
but again...guitar hero would be different. You'd want a version that was pretty close to the original, but I can also see the band's point about not wanting people to think they recorded the Guitar Hero version. As an artist, that would tweak me as well.
TheHappyFriar wrote on 11/23/2007, 5:58 PM
As an artist, that would tweak me as well.

Tweak = bad, right? Is it because you wouldn't want to be linked to the game or because someone did a better job? Just curious.

i went looking for the copyright info on the songs & there is a strange lack of, well, anything about it. every game I own that has licenses music (like Prey) gives the info about the songs but I can't find anything on guitar hero. It's said who played, wrote, etc. just like a film. All I can find is that some of the songs were done by the original artists.
Spot|DSE wrote on 11/23/2007, 9:38 PM
Tweak=Bad, yes.
I'd be tweaked if someone took one of my songs and tried to sound exactly like me. I'm flattered they like the song enough to remake it, but bothered that they'd not be artistic enough to build upon, improve upon, or just flat out shift it around to make it something new. After all, I did the original, if they want to sound like the original, why not just license the original rather than re-recording it.
Sad that Guitar Hero doesn't credit the musicians. In a film, it's rare to be credited, but in a game that is based on musical experience...seems like credit is part of the game.
FWIW, I'm a huge fan of what the game is, hopefully it inspires some incredible musicians.
TheHappyFriar wrote on 11/24/2007, 6:57 AM
I don't own the game (yet, would love it for Wii) so the manual MAY credit the musicians. If it was no-name's covering the songs then it could of just been one guy doing the music (via acid or something, lots of game music is done that way) & then a few people for the vocals. I've never seen a manual that doesn't credit EVERYONE (especially with big publishers, it's ~2 pages of everybody @ the publisher, even if they took out the trash!). Normally the game websites, imdb, publisher site & wikipedia say that info. At least one of them. But it appears there's a lack of "who-done-it" for all the GH games from what I could see (strange, I can find out who wrote every song for games 5-15 years ago but not those! :D ).

good point though on why to be upset. Didn't think of it that way.
Bob Greaves wrote on 11/24/2007, 9:11 AM
Given the fact that it is for a game whose purpose is to cover guitar heroes -NOT TO cover a song - it raises an interesting point but they do not have a leg to stand on. It will bite them back and become the story that makes us feel this is what we do not like about the Romantics.
TGS wrote on 11/24/2007, 10:03 AM
I didn't realize that absolutely no credit was given, either. This means if the song sounds just like the original that the game company is trying to pass the song off as the real thing. (without admitting it or paying royalties for the real thing)
Tim L wrote on 11/24/2007, 10:45 AM
I should check for certain with my 15 year old son, who got Guitar Hero 3 for the Wii as soon as it came out (and LOVES it -- though he's a sax player, not a guitar player), but when I mentioned seeing this on the web the other day, I asked him about it. I had noticed just casually listening that some of the songs sounded exactly like I remembered them, while others sounded just slightly different -- but so close that I wondered if I just didn't remember them correctly.

He said some songs are by the original artists, and the intro to the song says something like "SongTitle by BandName", while other songs (presumeably the covers) say "SongTitle as made famous by BandName" (or something to that effect). So it seems like the original bands are being credited (in a way) even for the cover songs.

But again, I didn't go back and check with him (or watch it myself), but I think thats what he told me a couple days ago.

Tim L
TheHappyFriar wrote on 11/24/2007, 10:49 AM
check the manual, activision has a habit of mentioning everyone. i'm betting it does say who played & who wrote them (you don't need to mention the original band if they didn't write/play it. Copyrights working against them in that one).

I didn't realize that absolutely no credit was given, either. This means if the song sounds just like the original that the game company is trying to pass the song off as the real thing. (without admitting it or paying royalties for the real thing)

This is the 4th edition of the game. That would of stopped it @ the first edition. :)
TGS wrote on 11/24/2007, 1:58 PM
I also noticed Tropicana orange juice is no longer labeled as "fresh squeezed, not from concentrate". But I never read about it in any article anywhere except I just happened to notice that it's not mentioned on the label anymore. If it's not in writing, you can bet it probably is from concentrate now, but the container looks the same, except the phrase is missing.
"Florida's Natural" does still have the phrase.
God only knows how long I was buying Tropicana, thinking it was still "Fresh squeezed not from concentrate" Of course the price never dropped.
I'm only mentioning this here as an example of sleazy marketing techniques used to fool the public.
If this edition of the game came out without crediting the artists, especially if it was a different artist doing the song, the attorneys are wringing their hands, like Mr. Burns right now.
I don't know the game, but if you choose a song, it should say "What I Like About You" written/recorded by The Romantics - Game version performed by Rich Little & the Kopy Kats. Yes, it should be obvious.