Activision Blizzard, publisher of the Call of Duty franchise, has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who sued the publisher earlier this year on the grounds that it illegally used his name and likeness in 2012’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Former New York City mayor and presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani, now a named partner at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, will serve as co-counsel on Activision’s behalf, arguing that Noriega’s depiction is protected free speech under the First Amendment.
Noriega initiated the lawsuit from the Panamanian prison where he is currently serving out a sentence for human rights violations he inflicted on his countrymen during his tenure as military dictator in the 1980s. The suit claims that his image was used to heighten the game’s realism, and thus increase its profits at the expense of tarnishing his reputation. He seeks damages as a share of the profits gained from his name.
“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,” explained Giuliani.
“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.”
Giuliani goes on to explain that a victory for Noriega in this suit would open up the disturbing possibility of other unsavory historical and political figures (and their heirs) being able to successfully police their representations in books, films, and games, which the former mayor considers a direct threat to the First Amendment. A video statement from Giuliani on the lawsuit can be watched here, and a collection of the pertinent legal documents is available here.
A live teleconference will be held with Mr. Giuliani today at 3:00pm EST, and call-in details can be found on Activision’s press release.