Gaming: Noriega v Activision

0
Have your say

Activision Blizzard, Inc., the creators of the popular Call of Duty® franchise, today filed a response to Manuel Noriega’s opposition in the frivolous lawsuit brought by the former dictator and convicted murderer.

Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Mayor and named partner of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, will argue as co-counsel beside Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, at the 16th October hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court in support of Activision Blizzard’s motion. Activision Blizzard is moving to strike Noriega’s lawsuit on the grounds that the minor inclusion of a Noriega character in Call of Duty®: Black Ops II is protected free speech.

“Manuel Noriega had no more than an inconsequential appearance in Call of Duty and isn’t entitled to anything for his role as a brutal dictator”, said Rudy Giuliani. “If successful, this case would obliterate the entire genre of historical fiction. I couldn’t be more excited at the prospect of being back in court to defend the makers of Call of Duty against this convicted murderer who wants to make a mockery of the U.S. legal system and attack our right to free speech.”

The stories in the Call of Duty franchise, like many movies and television shows, are ripped from the headlines of history. From the Cold War to World War II and the advanced soldiers featured in the upcoming Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare, the game is fictional, but is grounded in historical events. Call of Duty regularly features characters that are ruthless dictators and iconic villains, such as Fidel Castro and Manuel Noriega, as well as vaunted heroes such as President John F. Kennedy.

The motion to strike was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on 22nd September. The legal action seeks to dismiss Manuel Noriega’s complaint at the outset under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, a state provision enacted to protect freedom of speech against spurious lawsuits. Lawyers for Manuel Noriega filed a response to the anti-SLAPP motion on 2nd October and Activision filed its reply to that response today. The Superior Court will consider the matter at a hearing on 16th October.

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 everything from movies such as Forrest Gump and Zero Dark Thirty, to TV shows such as Saturday Night Live and Boardwalk Empire, to beloved books such as The Paris Wife, just to name a few.

“This case is an impermissible, unwarranted and unconstitutional attack on art. Video games enjoy the same liberties as documentaries, biographies and biopics. The full canon of entertainment is filled with fictionalised accounts of individuals and events and video games continue that long tradition,” added Richard Taylor of the Entertainment Software Association.