Panama's former military dictator Manuel Noriega claims he's entitled to compensation because his image appears in Activision's "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" without his consent.
Noriega's attorney argued Activision improperly used the ex-general's exact likeness without first obtaining his permission, and cited another court's ruling allowing the pop band "No Doubt" to pursue damages after band singer Gwen Stefani was included in the video game "Band Hero" without her permission.
For their defense, Activision has hired former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani. "I am morally outraged that a man like Noriega is seeking to inhibit our creative rights in the United States," said Giuliani. "If creative rights have to be sacrificed, they shouldn't be sacrificed for someone like Noriega, nor should anyone have to send millions of dollars down to a Panamanian jail because this madman is making absurd claims."
If Noriega wins, other historical figures could sue if they don't like the way they're portrayed by Hollywood, he said. The case would give them "veto power" over movies they don't like, Giuliani said, noting that Osama bin Laden's heirs would have never consented to the movie "Zero Dark Thirty," which documented the U.S. military operation that led to his death.
Activision Blizzard is protected by the 1st Amendment in depicting historical figures in video games, just as the makers of the 2013 movie "The Butler" were justified in using actors to portray former U.S. presidents, Giuliani said.
"He made himself a piece of our history," Giuliani said of Noriega. "He has no right to recover."