NEWS - Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Axl Rose Takes Activision to Court

Guns ’N Roses singer Axl Rose has filed a $20 million lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over its use of the group’s song "Welcome to the Jungle" in Guitar Hero III.

According to the complaint, which was filed this morning in the Superior Court of California, Rose’s issue is specifically with the use of former Guns ’N Roses guitarist Slash as an in-game avatar. Rose, according to the court documents, "is careful not to license any use of the band’s name and intellectual property that would further perpetuate the confusion in the public mind between Slash and Guns N’ Roses."

The complaint goes on to explain that Activision was "keenly aware" of Rose’s concerns regarding the association of Slash with the band, and that the company "began spinning a web of lies and deception to concel its true intentions" to feature both Slash and his new band, Velvet Revolver, in the game.

The story, according to documents, goes back to February of 2007, when Activision approached the band’s licensing representative to use "Welcome to the Jungle" in the game. Rose raised concerns and said that he did not want "any imagery of Slash or the songs of [Velvet Revolver] to be used in association or conjunction with Guns N’ Roses material," and said that he would consider Activision’s request "if Activision would confirm that no images, avatars or other characters of any of the old lineup or then-current lineup of Guns N’ Roses or [Velvet Revolver] would be used."

Activision, according to Rose, verified that no images of former Guns N’ Roses members would be in the game, and that the song "would not be used in any way that would indicate an association between Slash and Guns N’ Roses or promote Slash’s separate and post-Guns N’ Roses interests."

As conversations continued throughout the year, Activision representatives continued to reassure Rose that Velvet Revolver and Slash would not appear in Guitar Hero III. The court documents seem to even indicate that Rose is even in possession of an email from Activision music licensing coordinator Brandon Young very specifically saying that Velvet Revolver would not appear in the game. Finally in June, the agreement to use the song was signed.

One month later, Activision announced that Velvet Revolver songs would be featured in Guitar Hero III. According to the suit, Activision confirmed again to Rose and his representatives that "Slash’s avatar would not appear in Guitar Hero III or at any time ’Welcome to the Jungle’ was being played," and had furthermore "agreed to pull any Velvet Revolver songs from Guitar Hero III."

The game was released October 28, and featured Slash as a playable avatar in direct connection with the song. In fact, Slash is the only member of the band to be represented. Additionally, Velvet Revolver tracks were available as downloadable content.

On February 14, 2010, according to the suit, Activision’s Tim Riley approached Rose at a New York concert "in tears" to apologize "for the way in which Rose and Guns N’ Roses had been mistreated by Activision." Allegedly, he said "I can’t sleep at night" while begging for forgiveness.

Rose is claiming fraud, breach of contract and unjust enrichment in the suit.



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