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.


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  1. identicon
    zip, 26 Sep 2014 @ 2:05am

    drinking the Kool Aid

    " ... describing the criminal actions of Noriega, in this case as a kidnapper and murderer ... Noreiga, by the way, is serving prison time for murder and corruption."

    Tim, I would respectfully suggest that you try to restrain yourself from 'educating' people about international politics, wars, and other historical events that are tangential to the news article. You've demonstrated, time after time, that your knowledge in that area tends to be shallow at best, and in many instances is not even consistent with the dumbed-down, official (US government propaganda) version of events that so many gullible, flag-waving Americans uncritically accept as the Gospel truth.

    The US military invasion of Panama and installation of a puppet government might in itself be shocking, if not for the unprecedented railroading of it's president Noriega in order to try to create some sort of mirage of legitimacy to an illegal invasion of a sovereign nation.

    Panama is to the United States what Crimea is to Russia, a critical strategic asset that simply couldn't be allowed to fall into hostile hands. The original pretext of the US invasion was to "protect American lives" -- it had nothing to do with any specific "crimes" of Noriega or anyone else. This was all manufactured later, I strongly suspect because Noriega ended up having to be taken alive because he had sheltered in an embassy, which thwarted the original plan of having him conveniently killed in combat.

    Which brings up another point ... if Noriega had been found 'not guilty' of all charges, does anyone really believe that the US government would have simply released him -- if not turned back the clock and re-installed him as president of Panama? Of course more charges would have been tacked on, and another show-trial begun, for as many times as necessary, as there was only one acceptable outcome.

    In the usual slippery slope, the then-novel concept of jailing a foreign national under the laws of a nation he had never set foot in did not end with Noriega. It's now become standard policy, with countries such as Australia and the UK regularly extraditing their citizens to the US to stand trial on copyright offenses that don't exist (or are much more stringent than) under their own country's laws.

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