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Former dictator not too happy about his appearance in  Call of Duty
Former dictator not too happy about his appearance in Call of Duty
July 16, 2014 | By Mike Rose

July 16, 2014 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

A former military dictator who once found refuge in the Vatican Embassy in a bid to escape the U.S. Army, has filed a lawsuit against Activision stating that the publisher has used his likeness in a Call of Duty game without his consent.

As noted by Courthouse News, former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega is suing Activision for "blatant misuse, unlawful exploitation and misappropriation for economic gain" of his image in the video game," in its game Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

"In an effort to increase the popularity and revenue generated by Black Ops II, defendants used, without authorization or consent, the image and likeness of plaintiff in Black Ops II," reads the complaint.

The lawsuit also states that the game caused "damage" to Noriega, as his character "was portrayed as an antagonist and portrayed as the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes, creating the false impression that defendants are authorized to use plaintiff's image and likeness."

Noriega was convicted of drug dealing, racketeering and money laundering back in 1992, and after leaving prison in 2007, he then ended up in prison in Panama, where he still resides.

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Jorge Gonzalez
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I called it!

Forst Lindsay Lohan sues Rockstar, now Noriega sues Activision; thankfully Kim Jong Il is dead and he can't sue Avalanche for Just Cause 2

R. Hunter Gough
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Don't forget Ellen Page vs The Last of Us, although I don't think there was a lawsuit from that one.

Jorge Gonzalez
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IIRC you're right, it was not a lawsuit, it was more like Ellen Page saying "man she looks a lot like me" and Naughty Dog saying "we blended Ashley Johnson with a little of Ellen Page and voilà"

Anders Montonen
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In 2003, Lady Miss Kier of Deee-Lite unsuccessfully sued Sega, claiming that Ulala from Space Channel 5 was based on her likeness.

Michael Joseph
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these sorts of cases just make the video game industry look like its filled with hacks. And let's face it, it is a hackish technique.

You see this in cheap (artistically or otherwise) TV and movie productions too of course. They'll find an actor who resembles a current criminal, politician, activist, author, artist, etc so they can half-ass the characterization and rely on a real life personae to fill in the gaps.

Sometimes they take on the form of propaganda when they take this familiar personality and in the third act show the audience a personal side that is deranged, perverted or inhuman. The idea is that individual members of the audience will transfer some of the fabricated characterization onto the real person.

Either way, these techniques lack integrity and demonstrate a disrespect of the audience.

Zachary Strebeck
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I don't agree. Isn't the whole point of the Black Ops series to show them taking part in and shaping real-world events? This seems like an interesting angle, and very different from, say, hunting bin Laden in Fugitive Hunter. This doesn't seem lazy or hack-ish.

BTW, I just posted my blog looking at the legal side of this case here -

Michael Joseph
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"the publisher has used his likeness"

I misunderstood "used his likeness" to mean they created a fictitious character (eg. "Manny Moriego") coincidentally modeled after Noriega but not actually meant to represent the historical figure. So yeah, this aspect isn't an example of being artistically lazy...

Ian Richard
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I won't lie, this whole using people's likeness without approval or any responsibility kind of makes me uncomfortable.

I don't know enough about either the game nor the guy to make any judgement in this specific situation, but the concept itself concerns me. It might not be illegal or even morally WRONG, but it seems like a jerk move.

Michael DeSantiago
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I think he has a case... They made money off of using his image. After this EA should back pay all the college sports video games.

Gregory Booth
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Noriega has a case?

He should already have been executed considering the scope of his crimes.

Some people need to pay attention.