Rock band sues Guitar Hero publisher

Rock band sues Guitar Hero publisher

Imitation is not flattering after all

Detroit rock band The Romantics is suing the publisher of Guitar Hero, claiming that the game features a sound-alike recording of its 1980 hit What I Like About You.

The song is included in the new addition to the franchise, Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s, released in July for Sony's PlayStation 3.

The lawsuit against Activision was filed on 20 November in the US District Court in Detroit.

The claim does not involve copyright infringement, as Activision obtained permission to create a cover version of the song for Guitar Hero Encore.

Activision is instead accused of making the track sound too similar to The Romantics' version, leading many gamers to believe it to be the original.

"It is a very good imitation, and that is our objection," said attorney William Horton. "Even the guys in the band said: 'Wow, that's not us but it sure sounds like us.'"

Wally Palmer, a guitarist for the band, wrote in an affidavit: "I was very upset because the band had worked very hard over many years to develop and use its distinctive sound."

The suit alleges that permission was not obtained to create a sound-alike of the song, and that Activision should have secured a master licence for the original which would require the firm to pay royalties to the band.

The game's version of the song was recorded by WaveGroup Sound which is also named in the suit.

The Romantics are claiming unspecified damages and an injunction against the game.

A successful action could take Guitar Hero Encore off the shelves just before the crucial holiday season.