In last week’s episode of “Dictators Being Really Weird,” former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega filed a lawsuit against Activision Entertainment for the use of his image in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Basically, Call of Duty portrays Noriega with a violent character of the same name, and the real Noriega isn’t too happy… as he sits in a Panama prison serving time for human rights crimes.
His claims for lost profits and damages rest on the fact that the use of his image was not only unjustly scathing, but also added to the game’s realism, therefore bringing Activision Blizzard additional sales revenue.
If this story wasn’t strange enough, we now know from Activision Blizzard’s investor site that a former New York City Mayor will be heading the company’s defense.
“Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI), the creators of the popular Call of Duty franchise, today will file a motion to dismiss the frivolous lawsuit by former dictator and convicted murderer Manuel Noriega. Former New York City Mayor and U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani who is now a named partner of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, will serve as co-counsel and defend the company on the grounds that Noriega’s depiction in Call of Duty is a protected right to free speech.”
I really don’t know how to express the irony in this case. I mean, I could, but I’d rather let you read a former NYC Mayor bash an ex-dictator in defense of a video game:
“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,” said Giuliani. “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.”
You can also watch Giuliani call out the ex-dictator in his taped response to the case.
It’s also worth noting that this case would set massive precedent for rights concerning personal publicity. Everyone from dictators to B-list celebrities are portrayed, satirized, and adapted in today’s film, television, and other media.
“If successful, Noriega’s efforts would give numerous historical and political figures – and their heirs – a veto right over their appearances in works of art, having a chilling effect on movies such as Forrest Gump and Zero Dark Thirty, TV shows such as Saturday Night Live and Boardwalk Empire, and beloved books such as Primary Colors and The Paris Wife, just to name a few.”
We’ll keep you updated on this strange turn of events. Stay tuned for more Dictators Gone Wild.