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Ex-dictator Manuel Noriega's Activision lawsuit is dismissed

by Mark Tyson on 29 October 2014, 12:05

Tags: Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI)

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Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega's lawsuit against games publisher Activision has been dismissed by Judge William H. Fahey of the Los Angeles Superior Court.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this year by Noriega who is currently serving a sentence in Panama after being convicted of drug trafficking, money laundering and killing political opponents, accused Activision of creating an unauthorised portrayal in the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 game. Noriega's representative argued that the game damaged the former dictator's reputation as he was shown indulging in "numerous fictional heinous crimes" for the game maker's financial benefit. As a result, Noriega asserted that he was entitled to a share of the profits from the game.

Activision fought back by describing the game as 'historical fiction', and warned far-reaching implications if the lawsuit was not thrown out. It was argued that "in the unlikely event the lawsuit had been permitted to proceed, Noriega's efforts could have provided numerous historical and political figures a veto right over their appearances in works of art, having a chilling effect on everything from movies like Forrest Gump and Zero Dark Thirty, to television programs including Saturday Night Live and Boardwalk Empire and even to popular books such as The Paris Wife," the statement said.

The motion to strike was thus filed, in Los Angeles Superior Court on 22 September, on the grounds that the minor inclusion of the character in the game is protected free speech. The fact that the court agreed did not come as a surprise, with Fahey saying in part "This court concludes that Noriega's right of publicity is outweighed by defendants' First Amendment right to free expression."

"This ruling is an important victory and we thank the court for protecting free speech," said former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, attorney for video game creator Activision Blizzard Inc. in a press release. "This was an absurd lawsuit from the very beginning and we're gratified that in the end, a notorious criminal didn't win. This is not just a win for the makers of 'Call of Duty,' but is a victory for works of art across the entertainment and publishing industries throughout the world."

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Season Pass

In related news Activision has just published a video promoting the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Season Pass. Please see below.

HEXUS Forums :: 7 Comments

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Good, as quite rightly said in the article, if he had won it would have opened up a whole new can of worms on top of all the worms wriggling around our feet!
Not only stopping a nasty can of worms from creaking open, but claiming that the game damaged an already almost terminally damaged reputation was simply nuts, IMHO!
I personally think this is messed up. Can you imagine the poo-storm if someone wrote a fictitious story involving…damnit I dunno who's popular, Cheryl Cole will do, yeah. Anyway they wrote a story saying Cheryl Cole was a person of interest in a terrorist attack on the Hague which the very best soldier in the Call Of Duty world had to solve (that scottish git with the epic beard, naturally, mctavish was it?), and he had no option but to put a hole in her throat, meaning every album she did from there on in meant she sounded like Nat King Cole (in my opinion a marked improvement, but I digress), you can bet your bumcheek that she would sue Activision SO quickly they'd be forced to cut back on costs and only release mediocre shooting titles every 3 years instead of every 2.

It shouldn't matter if the person is a monster, if he was an angel, or if he was a dictator funded by the CIA so you're not quite sure what he was, people shouldn't be allowed to use your likeness without your permission to create bull**** backstories that an idiotic 13 year old will take as fact because they spend more time on COD than they do on Wikipedia
Did they actually use his name? I genuinely don't know, as I don't buy CoD any more. The image looks a bit like him, I suppose. I think this comes down to the parody laws. As a political figure, he puts himself up there for parody, so it's fair game. Margaret Thatcher did not hold a chicken in the air, but she doesn't get a cut of the profits from Spitting Image…
I played BOps2 and to be honest if I had noticed it was Noriega then it would have been a couple of seconds of “oh it's him”, otherwise it's made a non-impression. And personally, I don't think any less of Noriega as a result of his “appearance” in the game.

Law suit was horribly ill-conceived. Personally if I was in his position I'd be looking to see if they (Activision) want to stump up some money for a guest appearance in the next CoD. As the cliche says, all publicity is good publicity.

(And yes, I know that there's that other cliche that says that ‘there is such a thing as bad publicity’).