“The Wanderer” Musician Sues Bethesda for Use of Song in Fallout 4
Mike Sanders / 2 years ago
Oh well, I’m the type of guy who will never settle down, where pretty girls are, well you know that I’m around. I’d better stop now before I get sued. Why should I be worried? Well, apparently musician Dion DiMucci has placed legal action against Bethesda for the illegal use of his song “The Wanderer”.
I’ve never heard of Dion DiMucci or “The Wanderer”
Aside from being a big hit in the 1960’s, you would most likely know it only from the Fallout 4 trailer. In it of itself, the song did seem to fit the remit quite nicely and Bethesda obviously seemed to think they were allowed to use it.
It wouldn’t be the first time Fallout or Bethesda had problems with a song. For example, it is my understanding that “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” was initially planned for release as the title track to the original Fallout game back in 1997. Unfortunately, at the time, legal and financial restrictions prevented this. Bethesda was, however, able to obtain the rights for use in Fallout 3. So that story had a happy ending. This one on the other hand…
So, is he suing just because it was used in the Fallout 4 trailer?
Well, in his own words according to PCGamesN, Dion DiMucci is suing Bethesda because he finds the context of the song, with the game, to be “morally indefensible” and “repugnant”. Strong words, but does he have a point?
Well, here we get into some legalities. The song “The Wanderer” is ‘owned’ by Universal. Bethesda contacted Universal and asked them for permission to use the song. Permission was given, the song was used, you’d think that would be the end of it right? Well, apparently not. Dion DiMucci claims that a document exists in his own agreement with Universal that he must personally agree to the use of the song. In other words, Universal can use it but must receive DiMucci’s personal approval.
I am no legal expert, but I suspect DiMucci might be on some tenuous ground here. Music companies have, for the last 100 years, been pretty good at screwing artists with contracts. I would be very surprised if DiMucci was able to exercise this clause, even if he does have it.
Playing Devils Advocate!
I do not think Dion DiMucci is right and a cynic might suggest he’s only doing this for the money. He is, incidentally, suing for $1m. I do however think there is a case to be made from a moral standpoint here.
Fallout 4 is set in a world where the Cold War went badly wrong. You have to consider that Dion DiMucci grew up in a time when Nuclear war was a very real possibility, particularly during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Thankfully common sense prevailed and we didn’t end up blowing the planet up. That being said, there will be some people out there (of an older generation more likely) who will view this games subject as upsetting.
Some may question why it has taken so long for him to lodge this legal action. It has after all been nearly 2 years since Fallout 4 was released. Please remember that Dion MiDucci is an old man. I find the probability of him playing video games or having any knowledge of them to be very slim. I find it unlikely that Fallout 4 ever came to his attention.
What I have been unable to determine is if he received any royalties for the use of the song. Once again, a deep rabbit hole when it comes to music, fair usage, and copyright limitations.
So what happens now?
Not very much. Bethesda has done all its DLC, Fallout 4, from a production standpoint is over. I will be curious to see what comes of this, but truthfully, it’ll either be a pay-off or nothing.
In regards to legal action, you might want to read this funny story of how a Fallout cosplayer got arrested in Canada because people thought he was a terrorist.
Here is the trailer for Fallout 4 which includes the song in question. Enjoy it while you can.