Judge dismisses Noriega case against Activision over videogame
By Andrew Chung
Oct 28 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge has dismissed former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega's lawsuit against Activision Blizzard Inc over his depiction in the popular videogame "Call of Duty: Black Ops II."
Judge William Fahey of Los Angeles Superior Court granted Activision's special motion to strike the case, under a California statute that seeks to prevent lawsuits stifling free speech. Monday's ruling was made public on Tuesday.
Noriega filed suit in July, saying Activision had portrayed him as "the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes," including kidnapping and murder, to heighten the game's realism and increase sales. He said the company had infringed his right to his own publicity, and sought unspecified damages.
Activision said the use of the character was protected under the right to free speech, and Fahey agreed.
He said Noriega's right of publicity was outweighed by the defendants' First Amendment right to free expression, and that there was no evidence of harm to Noriega's reputation.
"Indeed," Fahey said, "given the world-wide reporting of his actions in the 1980s and early 1990s, it is hard to imagine that any such evidence exists."
Activision had warned that if Noriega prevailed, it would have a chilling effect on movies and works of art that portray historical and political figures. Noriega's character, one of 45, appeared in two of 11 missions in the game, which is set in both the Cold War and in the future.
Noriega said in court documents that he was unaware that his image was being used without his consent until he was advised by his grandchildren. Continuación...