No Doubt wins latest court round over Band Hero usage

Activision denied right to use freedom of speech protections against rock group

Rock group No Doubt has won the latest round in a lawsuit against Activision over its portrayal in the game Band Hero.

No Doubt filed a lawsuit against the publisher last November, claiming that it hadn't consented to the way it had appeared in the game.

The band said that, without its approval, Activision had turned the group into "virtual karaoke players" by having it perform over 60 songs by other musical groups.

It also objected to the way members of the band could be isolated into solo performers and placed randomly in countless variations - an act it said was: "contrary to the agreement between the parties."

Now the band has won a new victory over Activision, with LA County Superior Court Judge Kenji Machida issuing a tentative ruling that has rejected Activision's efforts to invoke freedom-of-speech protections under the 1st Amendment in defence of its use of the No Doubt avatars, according to the LA Times.

Activision told the site on Friday that it expects to appeal the ruling.

The publisher has also previously been denied the right to shift the case to a federal court, after claiming it as a copyright issue rather than the right-of-publicity issue argued by No Doubt.

Activision has previously said that its use of No Doubt in Band Hero was "within its legal rights", adding that the band's inclusion in the game followed "extensive" negotiations.

"Activision has a written agreement to use No Doubt in Band Hero - an agreement signed by No Doubt after extensive negotiations with its representatives, who collectively have decades of experience in the entertainment industry," it said.

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Latest comments (3)

Ben Furneaux Principal Designer 7 years ago
Hmmm, "virtual karaoke players". Quite an accurate recreation of No Doubt if you ask me...
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Haven Tso Web-based Game Reviewer 7 years ago
Seriously I really have no respect for Activision. They are just about money and exploitation of artists and creative staff and not games themselves. They have trashed a lot of great frachises and icons like X-men and Guitar Hero over the years to just fulfil their greed. I have stopped buying their games for quite some years now. I personally think that this kind of mal-practice and disrepect for talents should not be rewarded.
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Damian Lofthouse Studying MComp in Computer Graphics, University of East Anglia7 years ago
I have to disagree with Haven. I mean ignoring the ethical practices of Activision or any other corporate games developer, this court battle is a bit of a joke.

I don't know the details of the contract that was signed between the band and activision, but I'm sure it was along the lines of "Be in our game and we'll give you loads of money and expose you to an audience that would otherwise never even try listening to your music". They agreed, and now complain because the USERS of the game choose to mix and match the band members?

Does this mean we could have Steven Gerrard of Liverpool fame take EA to court because somebody chooses, in a game of FIFA, to transfer him to Manchester United?

As a consumer, if I was a fan of No Doubt, and I bought the game for their likenesses, but then discovered I can't actually let my avatar play guitar whilst the rest of the band play away, I'd be more than a little annoyed and feel hard done by. If the band didn't want to be used in that way, maybe they shouldn't have signed a contract, and perhaps tried to actually sell more albums rather than go for a quick cash-in.
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