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Activision Enlists Giuliani to Beat Noriega in Video Game Lawsuit

By William Peacock, Esq. on September 24, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You've probably heard of "Call of Duty." It's one of the biggest video game series, in terms of sales, of all time. In "Call of Duty: Black Ops II," real-life dictator-turned-prisoner Manuel Noriega makes an appearance as ... a dictator.

Turns out Noriega (the real one, not the video-game character) is mad and is suing over the use of his likeness. Activision, the company behind the game, is trying to get the case tossed and has enlisted a very interesting choice of counsel to help: former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

According to Inside Counsel, Noriega's initial complaint stated:

"Defendants' use of plaintiff's image and likeness caused damage to plaintiff. Plaintiff 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. This caused plaintiffs to receive profits they would not have otherwise received."

In response, Giuliani's firm filed a general denial and an anti-SLAPP motion in hopes of making this battle end as quickly as possible, reports Forbes. In an interview, Giuliani noted that Noriega was only in about 1 percent of the game and was not used in any promotional materials. "We can't find any evidence that anyone bought this video game because of Noriega," he stated.


Of course, as a former politician, Giuliani is practiced in rhetoric -- rhetoric that is already flowing. In the interview with Forbes, he described this as a battle between good and evil.

"Noriega is evil," Giuliani explained. "The company that he's suing is an American company that employs 7,500 people, it's given millions of dollars to veterans' causes, it's helped find jobs for over 5,000 veterans."

He also warned of the slippery slope of allowing these types of lawsuits, pointing out that the Supreme Court has held that video games get the same First Amendment protections as movies and books, and that appearances in works of fiction is the cost of celebrity, whether you are a dictator, politician, or movie star.

And in a prepared statement, Giuliani made sure folks knew that Noriega is a bad, bad man:

"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."

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