Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Former Dictator Sues Call of Duty Game Maker for Using Manuel Noriega Character



LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is joining a video game company's legal fight against disgraced Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who is suing Activision over his inclusion in one of its popular "Call of Duty" games.

Activision Blizzard Inc. announced Monday that Giuliani and his firm will ask a Los Angeles judge to dismiss Noriega's lawsuit, which claims his likeness was used without permission in 2012's"Call of Duty: Black Ops II."

Activision vs. Noriega

With Money and lawsuits

Giuiliani told The Associated Press he took the case because he doesn't want the imprisoned Noriega to profit from his crimes, which include convictions for murder, drug trafficking and money laundering. Also, Giuiliani said that if the lawsuit is upheld, it could give historical figures and their heirs veto power over their depiction in books, television, movies and video games.

Noriega sued Activision in July, claiming the company depicted him as a "kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state."

The lawsuit contends Noriega's inclusion in the game increased Activision's profits from "Black Ops II." The game earned more than $1 billion in sales within 15 days of its release. Noreiga's attorney William T. Gibbs declined to comment on Giuliani's statements.

Giuliani’s Involvement

In addition to leading New York City's government for two terms - including during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks - Giuliani is a former U.S. attorney and ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. In private practice, Giuliani worked as a First Amendment lawyer, representing major news outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and the financial magazine Barron's.

Activision said in a release announcing Giuliani's involvement in the case that the company plans to argue the game's depiction of Noriega is covered by free speech provisions.


Who Else Has Been In The Game?

The company noted its games have featured historical figures such as President John F. Kennedy and Fidel Castro.

The story line for "Black Ops II" involved the waning years of the Cold War in the 1980s, with Noriega aiding the game's key villain. The ex-dictator appears in less than 1 percent of the game and was not featured in any of its marketing, Giuliani said.

In real life, Noriega was toppled in 1989 by a U.S. invasion and served a 17-year drug trafficking sentence in the United States. He later was convicted in France of money laundering, and that country repatriated him to Panama in December 2011. Noriega, 80, is serving a 60-year sentence for murder, embezzlement and corruption.


Activision has faced lawsuits before over its use of well-known people in its video games. The band No Doubt sued the game maker after learning their digital avatars in "Band Hero" could be used to perform other artists' music. The band settled the case before trial, and terms were never disclosed.


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