Former Mayor Giuliani To Defend Activision In Odd Noriega Publicity Rights Lawsuit
from the public-defense dept
We recently sneered at the publicity rights law suit brought against video game maker Activision by dictatorship-maker Manuel Noriega over his portrayal in the Call of Duty game series. The idea of a foreign historical/public figure filing suit against an American company for publicity rights, which tend to be quite localized to individual states, seemed silly on its face. Add to the mix the dastardly acts by the plaintiff and there was a great deal of room for eye-rolling at this fight.
Well, now a new combatant has emerged to defend Activision, and there’s a small chance you’ll recognize his face.
Is it…Derek Jeter?
No, it’s former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has decided to take up the sword for Activision and defend them in court against Noriega. It turns out that America’s Mayor has since gone back to practicing law and he’s asking for a dismissal of the case for the exact reasons I outlined in the previous post.
Giuiliani told The Associated Press he took the case because he doesn’t want the imprisoned Noriega to profit from his crimes, which include convictions for murder, drug trafficking and money laundering. Also, Giuiliani said that if the lawsuit is upheld, it could give historical figures and their heirs veto power over their depiction in books, television, movies and video games.
The entire point here is that the First Amendment provides protection in fictional depictions of historical figures. That those depictions are so close in describing the criminal actions of Noriega, in this case as a kidnapper and murderer, doesn’t relieve Activision of those protections. Opening the door to more suits by public and historical figures would be absolutely horrific for the areas of historical fiction, whether in games, novels or movies. Noreiga, by the way, is serving prison time for murder and corruption.
“Noriega going after ‘Call of Duty,’ you should think of it as Osama bin Laden’s family going after ‘Zero Dark Thirty,'” [Giuliani] said.
Hopefully the court will dismiss this nonsense quickly. On a related note, it’s always nice to see a former politician come to the aid of new entertainment companies, video games in particular. Too often it’s the other way around.