Musician files suit in San Diego over alleged ‘Grand Theft Auto’ copyright infringement

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NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 18: A poster promoting Grand Theft Auto V is displayed at the 8 Bit & Up video games shop in Manhattan’s East Village on September 18, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A musician filed a copyright infringement lawsuit Thursday in San Diego federal court against video game publisher Rockstar Games for allegedly using a melody he composed without his permission in two of its popular “Grand Theft Auto” games.

Shawn Lee, who composed the soundtrack for one of Rockstar’s prior games, “Bully,” alleges the company lifted elements from a song it asked him to submit, then used those portions in the games, “Grand Theft Auto 4” and “Grand Theft Auto 5.”

Rockstar did not immediately respond for comment regarding the suit.

Lee alleges the company, which is based out of New York City but has an office in Carlsbad, asked him to submit music in 2008 for use in “Grand Theft Auto 4.” According to the complaint, Lee submitted a spec track, but was told the material was ultimately not going to be used “for reasons unknown” to Lee.

Lee later used portions of the track on an album titled “Reel to Reel,” which was released by Costa Mesa-based Ubiquity Records, also a plaintiff in the suit.

Lee alleges that late last year, he discovered that “certain compositions and stems, containing a certain melody and riff that had been presented to defendant” were used in “Grand Theft Auto 4” and “Grand Theft Auto 5.” He alleges that portions of his song, “Biker Chick” are “substantially similar” to the “Soviet Connection” theme song used in the games, as well as another song called “Liberty City Loop” in “Grand Theft Auto 5.”

The suit alleges copyright infringement, intentional misrepresentation and negligent misrepresentation.

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