Call of Duty publisher Activision states former dictator Manuel Noriega's lawsuit sets a precedent for vetoing their appearances in art.
Activision, publisher of Call of Duty, has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega filed, alleging Activision used his likeness without his consent.
Noriega filed the suit in July. He was the military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989. He was convicted in 1992 on charges of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering.
Rudy Giuliani, former New York City mayor and U.S. attorney, now a partner of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, is a part of the counsel for Activision. He is defending Activision's depiction of Noriega in Call of Duty as "a protected right to free speech."
"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. Quite simply, it's absurd," Giuliani said in a prepared statement. "I'm not interested in giving handouts to a convicted murderer and drug smuggler like Manuel Noriega who is demanding money from Activision and its popular Call of Duty franchise for simply exercising its right to free speech. Noriega's attack on the rights of Call of Duty comes as no surprise considering he's a lawless tyrant who trampled over the rights of his own people."
The motion for dismissal seeks to end Moriega's complaint under California's anti-SLAPP law. Strategic lawsuits against public participation seek to censor or intimidate the public with the cost of a legal defense. The California state provision protects freedom of speech from those lawsuits.
An Activision press release states if Noriega's lawsuit were successful, it would "give numerous historical and political figures - and their heirs - a veto right over their appearances in works of art, having a chilling effect on movies such as Forrest Gump and Zero Dark Thirty, TV shows such as Saturday Night Live and Boardwalk Empire, and beloved books such as Primary Colors and The Paris Wife, just to name a few."