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Nobody Wins In The Dictator vs Call of Duty

This was yesterday’s news of course, but it seems too bleakly funny to neglect mentioning here. Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega is suing Activision from his jail cell, claiming the use of his name and image as a CODBLOPS 2 baddie is unjust and misrepresentative. While his lawyers do note that “Plaintiff was portrayed as an antagonist and portrayed as the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes” (as opposed to his all numerous non-fictional heinous crimes)” the nub of the challenge seems to be less hurt feelings and more “creating the false impression that defendants are authorized to use plaintiff’s image and likeness.” In other words, filthy lucre. Figures.
Noriega was banged up for murders, racketeering, drug deals and pretty much anything you’d expect to find on a long-time villain’s CV (along with being on the CIA payroll for a while), but what he’s concerned about is “unjust enrichment, unfair business practices, violation of common-law publicity rights, and lost profits” on the part of Activision. Perhaps he simply doesn’t realise that Call of Duty games essentially misrepresent everyone and everything?

In any case, it seems may not have much of a, well, case. Games lawyer Jas Purewal told the BBC that “Noriega isn’t a US citizen or even a resident. This means that his legal claim becomes questionable, because it’s unclear on what legal basis he can actually bring a case against Activision.”

There’s been no comment from Activision, naturally.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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