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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Companies: activision

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Comments on “Did Activision Violate Arnold Schwarzenegger's Publicity Rights With Austrian Accented Thor?”

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Rajio (user link) says:


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?

Jackal says:

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.

darryl says:

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.

Chad says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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

Anonymous Coward says:

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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