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Dictator Manuel Noriega's Call of Duty likeness lawsuit shot down


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

October 29, 2014 | 3 min read

Manuel Noriega, a former dictator of Panama, has had a two-year-old lawsuit filed against Activision, which used his likeness in Call of Duty: Black Ops II, dropped by a US court.

Manuel Noriega as he appears in the game

Judge William Fahey of the Los Angeles Superior Court ruled that Noriega’s inclusion in the game represented a small segment of the content and was not a vital component of the game's success. He added that the use of Noriega’s likeness was protected by the First Amendment, reinforcing Activision’s right to free speech, according to Mashable.

New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani, represented the game company at court rubbishing Noriega’s claim: “This was an absurd lawsuit from the very beginning and we're gratified that in the end, a notorious criminal didn't win.

"What's astonishing is that Manuel Noriega, a notorious dictator who is in prison for the heinous crimes he committed, is upset about being portrayed as a criminal and enemy of the state in the game Call of Duty.”

On the ruling, Activision said: “Today's ruling is a victory for the 40 million dedicated members of our Call of Duty: Black Ops II community.

“The game has earned more than $1bn in sales within 15 days of its release and that the marketability and economic value of Black Ops II comes not from Noriega, but from the creativity, skill and reputation of Activision."

The lawsuit was reminiscent to one Lindsay Lohan filed against Rockstar Games, the developer of Grand Theft Auto V, earlier this year. The actress claimed Lacey Jones, a washed-up, drug-addicted celebrity with a minor role in the game had used elements of Lohan’s personality, voice and style.

However, Lohan’s claim was weakened by the fact the character was called Jones - not sharing the same name as the plaintiff.

Earlier this year, the teaser trailer for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, set for release in November, topped the Drum’s viral video chart, most likely due to its use of the acting talents of actor Kevin Spacey.

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