Giuliani's Firm Represents Activision Against Noriega Suit
Activision Blizzard announced today that it is filing a motion to dismiss a lawsuit by former Panamanian dictator, Manuel Noriega who claims the company used his likeness without his permission within its Call of Duty games. The motion to dismiss was filed by former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani and his partnership Bracewell & Giuliani. Giuliani held a teleconference today to discuss the importance of the lawsuit and Activision's First Amendment argument.
Giuliani's defense was three pronged. First he said that a win by Noriega would be "extremely damaging" to Freedom of Speech rights in America by opening "the flood gates" of historical figures and their legal decedents to sue on similar grounds. "A win would allow Osama bin Laden's family to sue the makers of the movie Zero Dark Thirty," stated Giuliani.
Second, Giuliani stated that a win by Noriega would have wide sweeping effects, creating a "terrible precedent" for other forms of popular entertainment like books that portray historical figures in a fictional light.
Finally, the former NYC Mayor argued that Noriega was a "bit player" within the game's storyline, appearing only in 2 of 11 segments. He added that Noriega's likeness was not used to market the game in the the same ways that sports figures are. When asked why Activision was taking such a high profile approach to the lawsuit, Giuliani said that "all cases have to be taken very seriously".
A failure to dismiss the case could send ripples of anxiety throughout the game dev community. Even if Noriega ultimately lost, the court's decision to hear his case could cause many company's to rethink their plot constructions if they include similar historical figures. Some projects might even be abandoned altogether by companies fearful of similar lawsuits.