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Maroon 5 Frontman Sues Activision Over  Band Hero  Use
Maroon 5 Frontman Sues Activision Over Band Hero Use
August 5, 2011 | By Mike Rose

August 5, 2011 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

Adam Levine, frontman for the pop band Maroon 5, has sued Activision over the use of his likeness in its 2009 music game Band Hero, arguing that he did not agree to the way in which he is portrayed in the game.

Levine alleges that he agreed to allow his likeness to be used in a version of Maroon 5 song 'She Will Be Loved' for the game.

However, according to the lawsuit acquired by TheWrap and reported by Reuters, Levine was allegedly not aware that his likeness could be used in the game to perform a host of other songs as well.

The frontman said that he had not been told that users would be able to make him sing any song available in the game, and that these songs "would not have been chosen by him for recordings or performances."

The lawsuit also noted that users were able to make Levine perform songs that were "including female voices." Allegedly, Activision asked permission from other artists for this feature, but didn't ask Levine himself.

According to the filing, these artists were also paid a higher fee to participate in the game than Levine was. The singer is suing for fraudulent inducement, breach of contract, violation of the common-law right of publicity, and unfair business acts or practices.

After the release of Band Hero, the band No Doubt also sued Activision over the use of its virtual in-game avatars, noting that it did not agree to its avatars being able to perform songs by other musical artists.

Although Activision counter-sued, judges recently refused to dismiss the case, meaning the band can now proceed with its suit for breach of contract and fraudulent inducement.

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Matt Glanville
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Oh, keep your dummy in your pram.

Todd Boyd
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So ridiculous. In the game, you play as one avatar/group of avatars throughout. If all of these artists had their way, you would be different each song that you played.

Get over yourselves, "pop stars."

E Zachary Knight
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Another one of these? Sorry, but neither side gets any real sympathy from me.

Martain Chandler
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Imagine a political game was going to be designed and Newt Gringo, Obama, Trent Lott, Richard Nixon, and George Clooney agreed to be in it. Then say the game is designed so the avatars can decide to switch ideology, so at some point you have George Clooney advocating killing baby seals and Trent Lott endorsing gay marriage. Lawsuits would happen. Many many lawsuits.

The details are in the contract. "Any reasonable person's expectations" is a valid legal argument. "A reasonable gamer's expectations" is not.

This should be fun!

Alex Leighton
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People using the legal system as a bank account when they need money, hardly news.

Adam Moore
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Although he holds the rights to his likeness, the last I checked, it's 2011. Did Levine sit on his rights for 2 years for the game to make enough profits to be worth challenging or until he needed the money? In that case, he's abusing IP laws and Activision can use that as a legal defense.

If he had brought this case immediately after the game's release, I'd have a bit of sympathy for the guy.

George Blott
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'nuff said!

Kevin Reilly
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Adam, it's not a violation of IP laws to wait to pursue a claim. Levine filed his claim within the statute of limitations under Calfornia law for breach of contract (4 years), fraud (3 years) and other liabilities created by CA statute (3 years). It is more likely he waited to see if the No Doubt case would be dismissed before filing. The No Doubt case is proceeding so I am sure his reps decided to pile on. Activision's defense will come down to an interpretation of his contract which probably mirrors the No Doubt contract.

Martain Chandler
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Kevin, thanks. I've read some news about this but haven't seen the text of the No Doubt contract. Do you know if it's public yet?

Kevin Reilly
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Here is the original No Doubt complaint:

The actual contract between No Doubt and Activision starts on page 15.

Here is the decision from the CA court of appeals rejecting Activision's motion to dismiss on the grounds that the First Amendment bars No Doubts claim of breach of contract and violation of the right of publicity:

Martain Chandler
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The whole thing seems to hinge on whether "likeness" also includes in-game behavior. Also, No Doubt had the right of refusal but didn't exercise it. On the other, other hand there's no way the could know what their avatars would be doing in game because the game was nowhere near finished and the window for refusal was small.

Sounds like this will eventually be settled out of court and the details won't be public.

Harry Fields
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Dude sucks and his music sucks harder. See ya' on The Surreal Life XXII, Levine.

Lyon Medina
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I'm losing alot of respect for artists now. Real music is on life support.

Ben Lippincott
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Man, Avril Lavinge looks a lot different now. When did she join this new band?