Former dictator Manuel Noriega is suing Activision

Military ruler of Panama and convicted criminal wants damages for negative portrayal in Black Ops II

Manuel Noriega, the military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989, is suing Activision Entertainment for the misuse and exploitation of his image in Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

The Black Ops series is a fictional narrative played out against real historical events and locations. Noriega featured prominently in Black Ops II, and now he's seeking damages for what he alleges is a damaging and unauthorised portrayal.

According to court documents obtained by the Courthouse News, Noriega is 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."

Anyone alive and cognisant in the Eighties may well remember Noriega's rise to infamy, a period that culminated in his conviction for drug trafficking, racketeering and money laundering in 1992. He was later found guilty of murder in absentia, and he has been in prison, in various locations, for much of the time since.

Disputes over likeness rights and misuse are not uncommon in the games industry. Lindsay Lohan recently filed suit against Rockstar for the use of her image in Grand Theft Auto V, while Activision has tangled with the punk band No Doubt over the use of their character models in Band Hero. Noriega's case is not the first, but it may just be the most bizarre.

In an interview with the BBC, the prominent interactive entertainment lawyer Jas Purewal pointed out that Noriega's accusations seem to be grounded the "right to publicity" afforded to U. S. citizens, and therefore is unlikely to stand up in court.

"Noriega isn't a US citizen or even a resident," Purewal said. "This means that his legal claim becomes questionable, because it's unclear on what legal basis he can actually bring a case against Activision."

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Latest comments (6)

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 3 years ago
From just reading the headline and the topic, one could think that if this was to be made fun of, World War 2 would be the obvious choice. But there she is, Lindsey Lohan and it cracks me up.
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Peter Lovell Head of Talent Acquisition, NaturalMotion3 years ago
This stuff infuriates and tickles me at the same time.

The inevitable product of the sad, self obsessed, "sue everything" culture we live in these days. My opinion on this is; Mr Noriega "dont do the crime if you cant do the time". Ie, shut up and sod off you naughty man. I mean, can you imagine Hitler or Stalin coming forward to sue the World on their likeness being used? They would probably give it a shot if they were around these days. Some lawyer would take it on. As Alan Partridge would say...."this country....tsk"
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Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance3 years ago
What's hysterical is the brief claims he is being portrayed as a "kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state," yet somehow misses the irony of their claim that Activision is exploiting him for profit...
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 3 years ago
This caused plaintiffs to receive profits they would not have otherwise received."

I think that should say "defendants". And if thats the case, then Noriega is once again wrong. Rather he was in the game or not wouldn't have made a difference. Black Ops II still would have made tons of money, broke more sales records and the majority of people who played it to completion(such as myself) wouldn't have noticed even if he was in there somewhere.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany3 years ago
"negative portrayal in Black Ops II"

Who cares when he already have negative portraits in real life? He is a tirant, a murderer, and that representation of him on BO-II is only guilty of falling short in portraying his depravity. So let him rot like the piece of s**t he is.

(Yes, I don't like dictators much)
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 3 years ago
I very seriously thought he was dead. I guess I was wrong. So, what happens when he loses the suit? I guess he'll hire some kidnappers and hit men to go after people, get caught up in a sting that gets him arrested and back in court so everything negative said about him can be proven true. Which means Activision can trot him ut as a villain again in a new CoD game sometime in the future... ;^)
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