Most of the drama relates to Gunners tune Welcome To The Jungle in Guitar Hero III, as Rose’s lawyer, Skip Miller, explains:
“This lawsuit is about protecting Guns N’ Roses and ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ and is about holding Activision accountable for its misuse of these incredibly valuable assets.
“The relief we are seeking is disgorgement of profits and compensatory and punitive damages.”
…the relief they are seeking is a cool $20 million, by the way.
Rumours originally circulated suggesting that Rose had never given permission for the song to be used in the game – but this is untrue. Permission had been granted, but Activision have allegedly breached their contract by prominently featuring guitarist Slash in imagery associated with the song, and not vocalist Axl.
Axl states he is the majority owner of the trademarks and licensing associated with Guns N’ Roses, and featuring the band’s former guitarist “exploits the prior association between Slash and Guns N’ Roses”, while at the same time promoting Slash himself, as well as his new band, Velvet Revolver. The game also includes Velvet Revolver tracks as downloadable content, “all of which was and is directly contrary to” Activision‘s contractual obligations.
Or, to put it another way:
“[Activision] began spinning a web of lies and deception to conceal its true intentions to not only feature Slash and VR prominently in GH III but also promote the game by emphasizing and reinforcing an association between Slash and Guns N’ Roses and the band’s song ‘Welcome to the Jungle’.”
When Axl discovered Slash’s inclusion in Guitar Hero II, along with several Velvet Revolver tracks, he immediately withdrew the authorisation for use of his song. Activision allegedly responded by promising the singer that the inclusion was “just for the purposes of a trade show”… so you can imagine Axl’s reaction when Guitar Hero III was released with an “animated depiction of Slash” all over the box art.
There’s also the little detail which sees Axl a bit miffed over the use of Guns N’ Roses track “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, which was licensed for use in Guitar Hero II and subsequently used in promotions for the game’s sequel.
It’ll be interesting to see how this one pans out – we’ll keep you posted.