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Did Activision Violate Arnold Schwarzenegger's Publicity Rights With Austrian Accented Thor?

from the i'll-be-baaaaack dept

Ah, the fun never stops with the still ambiguous world of publicity rights, a relatively recent, but growing field of "intellectual property" that has all sorts of problems. THREsq points us to a legal analysis of whether or not California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger would have a publicity rights claim over the character "Thor," found in Starcraft II. It's hard to argue that the character isn't based on Ahhh-nold, as it has his accent and repeats (sometimes paraphrased) famous Arnold lines from various movies:
In some ways, this is not all that different than the recent complaint from Michael Jackson's estate over the "zombie" Michael Jackson found in the game Plants vs. Zombies. Of course, to make this even more interesting, Schwarzenegger is still leading the legal fight against violent video games in California, so it seems even more amusing that his "voice" appears in a new video game.

That said, there's no indication that Schwarzenegger is actually upset by this -- and he apparently has not complained about other attempts to mimic his voice, such as with the Simpson's character McBane. So, at this point, the post above appears to be idle speculation on how a publicity rights claim might play out. However, it seems like a sad commentary on the state of publicity rights law that it's even worth considering whether such a creative choice by the gamemakers might break the law.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Rajio, Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 6:53pm

    common

    I know two people who sound like this though, thats the problem. They sound VERY similar to the 'Thor' character. I even got one to repeat some phrases just for the laugh. Arnold does not own 'male voice speaking English with Austrian accent' ... so is this about paraphrasing lines spoken by characters he's portrayed in movies over the years?

     

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  2.  
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    s0v3r1gn (profile), Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 7:04pm

    Should be protected

    McBane, Zombie MJ, and Thor should be protected by the parody laws. There should be no room for legal action.

     

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  3.  
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    Paul`, Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 9:05pm

    These sort of things are why weed should be legal.

    You hear about someone using something you see as your own and feel that they owe you something. You can either hit a bong and chill out, have a laugh and be happy people are influenced by your lifes works or you can be all American on them and sue.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 3rd, 2010 @ 10:02pm

    I played through SC2 and didn't notice the connection to Schwarzenegger. This suggests to me that any such claim would be a real stretch...

     

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  5.  
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    IronM@sk, Sep 4th, 2010 @ 12:04am

    Not too concerned about the publicity rights claim...

    ...but more concerned about a copyright claim from whichever Hollywood studio was responsible for the movies Predator, Terminator and True Lies for using actual lines from those movies in a commercial product.

     

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  6.  
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    Jackal, Sep 4th, 2010 @ 2:41am

    well blah to this

    The fact that the Govehnator isn't complaining about this is to me a good sign in a way. But the fact that some people can think this could be taken in a way to bring it to the courts? thats just insane! I mean think about it. SC2 is insanely popular, to the point of it being all cult-ish. The fact that his voice was put into one of the most powerful terran units? In one of the most popular recent game releases world wide? I would take it as a compliment. also, if they wanted to take that to the courts, what about the rest of the Austrian population? wouldn't they have to take them to the courts? I mean, its an accent that was the primary focus. The fact that they were using spoofs of popular lines was almost a side-note. Im just saying, i would take it as a compliment.

     

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  7.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Sep 4th, 2010 @ 4:00am

    Blizzard copies too, so what?

    The shot of the phantom's rifle is stolen from the chaingun in Duke Nukem 3D. When is Blizzard getting sued?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    random, Sep 4th, 2010 @ 6:29am

    You've been had, these are not the voices in the game for Thor but someone dubbed over it.

     

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  9.  
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    techflaws.org (profile), Sep 4th, 2010 @ 7:06am

    Re:

    Really? I'Ve bought the german version so I wouldn't know. Besides, the first thing I turn off is unit chatter.

     

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  10.  
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    Nate (profile), Sep 4th, 2010 @ 7:59am

    Re:

    That's odd. The sounds in the vid are exactly the sounds in my US version of the game...

     

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  11.  
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    Stanley1998, Sep 4th, 2010 @ 8:00am

    Kill 'em all and let Gawd sort them out.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 4th, 2010 @ 10:06am

    Just find a lawyer with an Austrian accent for when time comes to defend in a lawsuit. Would make it quite interesting if the defending lawyer also sound very similar to the Thor character in SC2.

     

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  13.  
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    Another User, Sep 4th, 2010 @ 10:08am

    Re:

    I own the US version and that is the same voice track as in my version.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 4th, 2010 @ 8:57pm

    Re:

    or you were born after 1990, or you was never a big fan of his movies.

     

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  15.  
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    zegota (profile), Sep 5th, 2010 @ 1:59pm

    Re:

    This is the in-game voice. You either have a different version, or you're trolling.

     

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  16.  
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    Dwayne, Sep 5th, 2010 @ 3:31pm

    Thor is...

    "THOR IS HERE!"

     

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  17.  
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    darryl, Sep 5th, 2010 @ 4:47pm

    Blizzard uses them in WoW heaps as well

    Paris hilton, for example (another name, but very very close) who sells fashion.

    There are many others as well, as well as the dances the avatars do are based on well known dance scenes from movies like Saturday night fevor, its all throughout the game.

    But its makes it more fun and interesting.

    Also the dance from "toxic" is used as well,

    There used to be an ARNIE web site, that would generate random classic arnie statements, that you could download and use for your ring tone, or for error messages on your computer or whatever. its a bit of fun..

    I would expect arnie would not care, ive seen him recieve alot of that type of comment in fun, and he enjoys it and treats it as the joke and fun it is.

     

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  18.  
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    Chad, Sep 5th, 2010 @ 9:41pm

    Publicity is always a good thing.

    What I don't understand is why anyone would want to fight it in the first place. It's publicity. Sure, you might not be getting royalties from it (or a similar pay out), but it's not exactly bad publicity.

    Someone like Arnold or Michael(estate) should be proud that their voice or appearance is so recognizable rather than try to censor everything similar to yourself.

    I've always been told that any publicity is good publicity.

     

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  19.  
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    Dwayne, Sep 5th, 2010 @ 10:38pm

    Re: Publicity is always a good thing.

    The saying, "Any publicity is good publicity" only applies if you're paying the company a fee to give them publicity or expect a lawsuit.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2010 @ 6:11am

    fick arnold the girly boy

    oh arnold dont like violence now

    are you collecting any royalties off terminator and conan movies?
    how about total recall

    NO violence there
    SO i guess we'll all see arnold do little house on the side street

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2010 @ 7:25am

    Arnold doesn't care about the violence in video games, it's his legs glued at the news ugly wife that has the hard-on and Arnold follows along like an obedient puppy because it would cost him billions and most of his connections. His marriage to the Kennedy clan carries a lot of baggage and I pity the poor sucker. Over the hill with an ugly wife. Yikes. Poooooooor Arnooold

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2010 @ 7:33am

    Arnold wasted the last 6 good years of his looks being the stupid Governor of a bankrupt, corrupt state that can never agree on a budget because of the special interests. He had to pay back his connections and make sure that they raped California along with America appropriately. Kinda like Reagan was. Now he's just looks like an old fart with an ugly wife trying to matter to anyone besides himself. Nancy, Maria kinda like clones. Skinny, ugly, opinionated women with absolute control over their husbands.

     

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  23.  
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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Sep 6th, 2010 @ 6:35pm

    Re: Re:

    Or you simply didn't use Thors much. The standard Thors only feature specifically in one mission and a lot of players will skip them entirely in other missions.

     

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  24.  
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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Sep 6th, 2010 @ 6:38pm

    Re: Re:

    Or the poster simply doesn't know about the whole "click madly on units in Blizzard RTS titles to hear funny one liners" easter egg.

    The dryads's human call in WC3 is still one of their best :)

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2012 @ 3:52pm

    Re:

    u idiot its the exact same... i play the game daily.

     

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