Rudy Giuliani Saved 'Call Of Duty' From A Suit By A Panamanian Dictator
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We asked readers what video game series is the most overrated. People responded with criticisms for just about every type of game, from Red Dead Redemption to Legend of Zelda, but by far, the most readers (Frank E., Emily H., Brad S., and dozens more) pointed their fingers at Call of Duty.
It's true, Call of Duty sells ridiculously well despite committing every possible video game sin—inflating prices, inflating file sizes, being boring, etc. But they've had some high points. Like Black Ops 2, which some call the best installment. It had a more interesting story than most, introducing sci-fi tech for the first time with a plot set in the near future while also having a parallel plot set in the '80s. The second of these plots got the publisher Activision sued ... by Panamanian former dictator Manuel Noriega.
Noriega appears as a character in the game, a treacherous enemy. The real-life Noriega, still alive at age 80, sued Activision, claiming this portrayal damaged his reputation. A judge ultimately dismissed the complaint, saying, "given the world-wide reporting of his actions in the 1980s and early 1990s, it is hard to imagine" there was any way his reputation could get any worse. Noriega was in prison at the time of the suit, for murdering multiple political opponents.
One other aspect of the suit sounds slightly less absurd. Noriega sued because the game used his likeness without his permission, so he claimed he was entitled to a share of profits. For another '80s character in the game, Oliver North, Activision Blizzard didn't just get the real man's blessing but actually got him to voice the character (and paid him, presumably).
The judge dismissed this complaint as well. You do not need the permission of a public historical figure to feature them in a movie or video game. You gain some additional legal protections if they sign a release, but you can stick them in regardless.
Activision's lawyer during all this? Rudolph Giuliani, who called the decision "a victory for works of art across the entertainment and publishing industries throughout the world." His position on free speech with regard to covering heads of state would change a bit in the years that followed. There was a time when "America's mayor defends the free speech of video games" sounded inspirational, but now, "Rudy Giuliani teams up with Activision Blizzard" comes off like something from the Legion of Doom.
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Top image: Activision Blizzard