As if the case of Manuel Noriega vs. Activision over the video game publisher’s use of his likeness in Black Ops 2 wasn’t weird enough, things have taken a very interesting turn as of late. Obviously, Activision was forced to flex its legal muscle and is hoping to have the suit dismissed, but it is who Activision has hired to represent them that makes the story that much bigger.
To help fight Noriega’s claims of defamation, Activision has hired the law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP in the hopes of having the suit dismissed under free speech law. And yes, when say Activision hired Giuliani we do mean former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
For those who haven’t been following the news, the former Panamanian dictator sued Activision over the use of his likeness in Black Ops 2. Obviously, the representation was not a favorable one, and Noriega brought forth a suit claiming defamation of character. Given that the game doesn’t paint Noriega in the best light, it’s reasonable to consider the dictator (currently in prison) has a case, but Giuliani doesn’t see it that way.
“What’s astonishing is that Manuel Noriega, a notorious dictator who is in prison for the heinous crimes he committed, is upset about being portrayed as a criminal and enemy of the state in the game Call of Duty. Quite simply, it’s absurd. 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.”
Rather, he is confident that the courts will dismiss Noriega’s case under free speech, but is prepared to represent Activision should things go to trial. Still, Giuliani believes that Noriega doesn’t have a case for three key reasons.
- He alleges the likeness is transformative by putting him in a series of fictional situations.
- Noriega’s likeness was never used to promote the game.
- Noriega is only in a very small percentage of the game when looking at the full retail package (singleplayer, multiplayer, zombies)
While some game developers and publishers tend to brush lawsuits like this aside and let their in-house counsel take care of them, Activision has brought out the big guns. At a glance, the suit seems a little ludicrous, but if the publisher is getting someone like Giuliani involved it could be a bigger issue than previously thought. Or it could just be a coincidence that the former Mayor of New York is representing one of the biggest video game publishers in the world as they fight a lawsuit from Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega. One of those coincidences, you know?
Given the protracted nature of lawsuits – especially ones featuring Activision – we doubt that any resolution will be found within the coming days, but it’ll be interesting to see how things play out regardless.
Do you think that Manuel Noriega might have a case against Activision? How weird is it that Rudy Giuliani is representing the publisher?
Source: Game Informer