Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

October 20, 2010 -

A Brazilian court has ordered Rockstar Games to halt the worldwide sales of Grand Theft Auto IV: Episodes From Liberty City. The Third Civil Court in the city of Barueri ordered an injunction because it allegedly uses a song without the composer's consent. The song, "Bota o Dedinho pro Alto," which was performed by an 8-year-old Brazilian boy that was composed by his father.

A court statement says the game makers do not have the rights to "Bota o Dedinho pro Alto," which is sung by an 8-year-old Brazilian boy and was composed by his father, Hamilton Louren. The court concluded that the song in the game, "Daniel Haaksman" (performed by Kid Conga feat. MC Miltinho) infringes on the other song.

The court issued the order on September 27, which was unearthed by the Associated Press this week. In that order the court also said that Rockstar Games and Brazilian distributor Synergex could be fined nearly $3,000 per day if the order is not obeyed. Both companies have the right to appeal the decision.

We will continue to follow this story as it develops.

Source: ABC News


Comments

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

It would appear that Brazilian courts have a very bad habit of not knowing wtf they are talking about when concerning international laws they're supposed to be obeying. The Goldman case, which was as clear cut a case for the Hauge Convention concerning the transportation of minors as you could get, was mired in Brazilian courts for years. Apparently no one could be bothered to read the Hauge Convention statutes, or as I suspect so much money was being thrown around they didn't really care.

In this case the rights HOLDER is responsible for the infringement. Rockstar in good faith licensed the rights from Synergex. Thus any 'profits' would be funneled to Synergex in the form of the licensing fees. You can go after Rockstar but you don't have any legal foundation to stand on, except if you're in Brazil apparently.

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

What kind of idiot judge would pass that ruling? It took me two minutes to look up the song in the manual; 

"Kid Conga (Daniel Haaksman feat. MC Miltinho), Published by High Score Publishing c/o Budde and Made to Play Publishing, Courtesy of Man Recordings"

It is obvious that Rockstar are not claiming ownership of the song. If High Score Publishing do not have the rights to "Bota o Dedinho pro Alto", then they are the ones at fault.

Moreover, what great harm is being caused that would warrant a worldwide halt of game sales? Not withstanding the fact that the game has been available on all major formats for months, and sales have long since peaked.

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

High Score may be at fault, but Rockstar is the one DISTRIBUTING THE SONG.

Signing an agreement to distribute a copyrighted work only authorizes you to use that work if the other party ACTUALLY OWNS THE RIGHTS.  And if you don't understand that, well, I'd like to sell you the rights to Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for fifty bucks.

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

Obviously, you are not familiar with how licensing works or with copyright law, and neither is this judge in Brazil or the lawyer who went after Rockstar to begin with.

When you purchase the license to use a song in another work, you purchase that license in good faith that the work you have purchased is fully owned by the entity you're purchasing from.  If the seller is not acting in good faith, they are actionable upon in court and the actual owner of the song has a claim against them, not against Rockstar.  They should be able to pursue and gain the profits that the licensee received from Rockstar as well as royalties from any other sources for that one song.

They went after Rockstar because they're the ones with the money and are the proverbial low-hanging fruit.  The judge in this case overstepped his bounds.

Also, you would not be able to provide the proper documentation that you own the rights to "Sgt. Pepper," so I'm not going to take you up on your offer.

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

"If the seller is not acting in good faith, they are actionable upon in court and the actual owner of the song has a claim against them"

Never claimed any differently.

"not against Rockstar"

This is the point I'm arguing.

Rockstar is distributing something they don't have a right to distribute.  The copyright owner -- ie, the owner of the right to copy -- can stop the continued distribution because they never granted that right to Rockstar.

Yes, if this has merit, the real rights holders can and should go after the fraudulent rights holders -- and so should Rockstar.  But that doesn't magically give Rockstar the rights to the song.  If they did indeed buy from a fraudulent seller, then they don't have the rights and never did.

I stand by my analogy, as far as it goes -- just because I fraudulently sold you the rights to Sgt. Pepper doesn't mean you can continue to sell burned discs of it.

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

That analogy doesn't really stand up. Sgt. Pepper's is a well known classic, whereas what we see here is a published song (to which High Score does "ACTUALLY OWN THE RIGHTS") which infringes another, very obscure song.

As MechaTama31 pointed out, it is highly unlikely that Rockstar could have known of the infringement. Rockstar is not the only one distributing the song, and it makes logical sense to punish the originator of the infringement. I don't know if this has happened or not since it is not within the scope of the article, but if it hasn't then it makes no sense to single out Rockstar and their Brazilian distributor since the source of the problem is further up the supply chain.

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

"what we see here is a published song (to which High Score does "ACTUALLY OWN THE RIGHTS") which infringes another, very obscure song."

Ah, missed that distinction -- thought it was the SAME song, fraudulently licensed.  That does make a difference -- but I still think the rights holder may be able to stop Rockstar from continuing distribution.

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

Rockstar licensed the song in good faith from High Score.  It's not reasonable to expect someone to scour every song in the entire world to make sure the song they licensed from somebody else isn't ripping some other song off.  The responsibility is High Score's, to not go distributing and licensing an infringing song.

And also, seriously, these techno/rap guys really need to quit ripping off other people's songs in the first place.

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

I know exactly which song they're talking about, and honestly I would almost be willing to re-purchase the game with it removed. That song is so god-awful annoying and it plays every single time you enter the club (which is rather often throughout the storyline).

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

Yeah, it's a pretty easy fix -- Rockstar's lawyers look into whether the verdict has merit; if it doesn't, they appeal in international courts, and if it does, they recall the game, release a new version without the song, and sue whoever sold them the bogus rights for damages.

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

Sounds like a good solution to me.

Easy to make a patch that skips over that song :)

 

====

James Fletcher, member of ECA Canada

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

I don't see this ruling holding very much water. Exactly what jurisdiction does Brazil, a lower civil court not withstanding, have to impose a worldwide ban? It's unenforcable. They have no jurisidction with which to enforce a ban in (Most) American (Continental), European, Australian, New Zealand, or Asian markets. Their ban might be effective in their own jurisidiction, but that jurisidction ends at either their district or Brazilian borders depending on how their court system operations.

Additionally, HarmlessBunny has a point: Someone signed off on this song. Someone needs to be answering some questions right about now.

----
Papa Midnight
http://www.thesupersoldiers.com

----
Papa Midnight

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

Copyrights are typically protected by international treaties.

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

Indeed, but the fact is someone illegally sold the rights to a song they didn't have the rights to. Someone's going to have to pay. Big.

----
Papa Midnight
http://www.thesupersoldiers.com

----
Papa Midnight

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

Someone signed off for the song. Would it not be prudent to go after the person who falsely signed the rights of the song to Rockstar, rather than Rockstar itself?

Also somehow I don't see Rockstar bowing to Brazil on this one. I hope they actually win the appeal.

Re: Rockstar Trouble in Brazil

"Would it not be prudent to go after the person who falsely signed the rights of the song to Rockstar, rather than Rockstar itself?"

Well, Rockstar's the one selling the game, not the person responsible for the rights SNAFU.

But whoever sold Rockstar the rights (or claimed to) is probably going to be hearing from either the real rights holders or Rockstar over this.

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