The gaming industry is no stranger to lawsuits over unpaid use of personal likenesses, from NFL players seeking compensation from EA to Lindsay Lohan suing a doppelgänger in Grand Theft Auto V. Yet we are a little confused by the allegations in the lawsuit of deposed Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega about his actions in Call of duty black ops II.
Courthouse News Service reports that Noriega has filed a 13-page suit in Superior Court Duty publisher Activision for using its image “without permission or permission.” According to the lawsuit, the game falsely portrays Noriega “as a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state” and “an adversary and… the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes.”
Noriega is, of course, known as a ruthless dictator and a key player in the drug cartels in Central America in the 1980s, when he also worked as a CIA informant. After being deposed in a US invasion in 1989, he was convicted of drug trafficking, racketeering and money laundering in 1992 and has been in prison ever since. In other words, Noriega’s portrayal in the game can’t do much more to defame him than his actions already have.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Activision can just use his likeness without permission or compensation (even if he’s undoubtedly a public figure). But Noriega could still have problems with his case. As interactive entertainment attorney Jas Purewal told the BBC, “Noriega is not a US citizen or even a resident. This means his legal claim becomes questionable, as it is unclear on what legal basis he can actually bring a case against Activision.” That’s good news for any future Duty game that might want to use Pol Pot as the main antagonist.