Panama’s former dictator, Manuel Noriega, is suing Activision for using his name and likeliness in their video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
Noriega did not give permission to use his image and claims the game portrays him as ‘a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state’, and is suing for ‘unjust enrichment, unfair business practices, violation of common-law publicity rights, and lost profits.’ (Game Planet)
Noriega, now 80, was the military dictator of Panama from 1983 – 1989 and was captured in December of 1989 during the US Invasion of Panama. In the US, he was tried on eight counts drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering. Following his sentence in the US, he was extradited to France where he served a further seven years on money laundering charges. He is now serving another 20 years in a Panama jail.
US entertainment and tech lawyer Jas Purewal said Activision does not need to respond to Noriega’s suit as he is not a US resident or citizen. (BBC)
“In the US, individuals have what’s called the right to publicity, which gives them control over how their person is depicted in commerce including videogames,” said Purewal.
“It all focuses upon the American legal ability for an individual to be only depicted with their permission, which in practice means payment of a fee.
“But Noriega isn’t a US citizen or even a resident. This means that his legal claim becomes questionable, because it’s unclear on what legal basis he can actually bring a case against Activision.”