Rock stars don't go to court, they settle out of court

MONEYWell that was certainly fast. On Monday Viacom (owners of Harmonix) sued Activision for 14.5 million dollars in unpaid royalties. On Tuesday Viacom withdrew the suit because Activision agreed to settle this matter out of court.

Way way back in the day Harmonix was just a small company making a game with a guitar controller. RedOctane was just a small publisher taking a chance on a game with a guitar controller. Since then RedOctane has been purchased by Activision and Harmonix was eaten by media giant Viacom.

After Harmoinx was purchased by Viacom, they sold the rights to the Guitar Hero franchise to Activision so long as certain royalties were paid. It is a two tier royalty system. The first says, any game in the Guitar Hero franchise published by RedOctane/Activision without Harmonix creating it results in cash money going to Harmoinx. Pretty strait forward. When Activision released Guitar Hero III Harmonix and Viacom got paid.

Whats the problem? Well, the second tier. It says that if any of the Harmonix technology is used to create another Guitar Hero game then the royalty payout is higher. And not just a bit higher, it’s double.

Activision only paid out the lower tier of royalties because it claimed that Neversoft (also owned my Activision) built the game from scratch. Viacom and Harmoinx disagree, hence the lawsuit.

Activision really needs to shut its mouth and pay up. Guitar Hero III looks exactly like Guitar Hero’s I and II. Notes, fire, star power, hammer-ons and pull-offs. It’s the same. The display may be different, but there is no refuting that it is a Guitar Hero game, and it looks like a Guitar Hero game.

With three Guitar Hero games planned for release this year Harmoinx could move to the Bahamas and chill out on a beach for the rest of their days. They’re going to be rolling in royalty money, especially if Activision is forced to pay the higher rate on all the releases.

[via Variety]


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Author: Creighton DeSimone View all posts by

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