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Duke Nukem 3D Music Lawsuit Reaches a Settlement

A lawsuit over the rights to Duke Nukem 3D’s music has finally been settled.

Duke Nukem may not have been very active of late but, behind the scenes, Gearbox, 3D Realms and composer Bobby Prince have been embroiled in a lawsuit over Duke Nukem 3D’s music. Gearbox purchased the rights to the blonde, sweary action-hero’s adventures, thinking the musical rights were included.

They went on to release Duke Nukem Forever which, having spent years in development hell at 3D Realms, provided to be just as big a trainwreck in Gearbox’s hands. After shoehorning Duke Nukem into Bulletstorm, the company released Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour, an update of the last good Duke Nukem game, featuring an all new globe-trotting chapter. Reviewing World Tour, we called it “the perfect point of entry into the series.. a fine new outing for old man Duke.”

However, Bobby Prince, who composed the music for Duke Nukem 3D, hadn’t been consulted about this re-release. This was because, as far as Gearbox were concerned, they didn’t need to; they owned the rights to Duke Nukem, and that was that. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that straightforward.

GamesIndustry.biz has an excellent summary of the lawsuit, but it all boils down to the fact that 3D Realms apparently didn’t own the copyright to Bobby Prince’s work. Instead, they licenced it for the game and so, when Gearbox bought Duke Nukem, they didn’t get the rights to Duke Nukem 3D’s music.

Had the lawsuit not been settled, Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour could have been pulled from digital storefronts. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a game’s been delisted due to rights issues.

However, it’s all been sorted and while there’s no mention of how much money has changed hands, you can assume Bobby Prince has received either a lump sum or is set to get royalties from past and future sales of Duke Nukem 3D. It also looks like 3D Realms admitted the situation was largely down to them, stating they’d “inadvertently overlooked” the licensing of Bobby Prince’s work.

Now if only we could get a new, good Duke Nukem game.

Weekend Editor // Chris has been gaming since the days of the Acorn Electron, which was allegedly purchased to 'help him with his homework'. You can probably guess how well that went. He’ll tackle most genres – football titles aside – though he has a taste for games that that are post-apocalyptic, horror-oriented or thought provoking in nature.