Image Courtesy of Activision Blizzard
Video game publisher Activision Blizzards’s association with dictatorship has historically ended with its domination of video game sales charts. However earlier this year the company had a run in with true despotism; becoming recipient of a lawsuit filed by notorious Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. Now the company has stepped up to fight back, hoping to have the case thrown out of court.
In July, Noriega filed suit against Activision in a Los Angeles Supreme Court for the unwarranted use of his name and likeness in the military shooter “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.” The suit contends that Activision intentionally used Noriega’s likeness in an effort to shore up profits, and seeks a portion of the profits netted.
According to the initial complaint, "Defendants' use of plaintiff's image and likeness caused damage to plaintiff. Plaintiff was portrayed as an antagonist and portrayed as the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes, creating the false impression that defendants are authorized to use plaintiff's image and likeness. This caused plaintiffs to receive profits they would not have otherwise received." The complaint also makes specific reference to a mission in which players are tasked with kidnapping the former dictator.
On Sept 22, Activision filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which it calls frivolous. The company has solicitied the aid of former New York Governor and U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani. Serving as co-counsel, Giuliani will argue that the suit is baseless because use of the images are protected under the First Amendment.
In a statement, Giuliani said, “I'm not interested in giving handouts to a convicted murderer and drug smuggler like Manuel Noriega who is demanding money from Activision and its popular Call of Duty franchise for simply exercising its right to free speech. Noriega's attack on the rights of Call of Duty comes as no surprise considering he's a lawless tyrant who trampled over the rights of his own people."
The company also says that should Noriega’s complaint be allowed to proceed it would chill works of fiction in media from video games to movies.