Activision countersues No Doubt

Publisher produces Band Hero likeness agreement in defense of unlockable character models, claims pop stars didn't live up to their contractual obligations.

Last month, Activision launched Band Hero to a warm reaction from critics and critical reaction from one of the rhythm game's starring bands, No Doubt. Upset that their in-game likenesses could be made to perform songs outside the band's oeuvre, the members of No Doubt sued Activision, saying its agreement only extended to the group's three songs licensed for the game: "Just a Girl," "Don't Speak," and "Excuse Me Mr."

Like to look at Gwen Stefani and pals but hate their music? Activision has a deal for you!

As spotted by The Hollywood Reporter, last week Activision answered those charges and shot back with some of its own. In its response and countersuit, Activision said it is "publicly known" that characters in previous Guitar Hero games have been "unlockable" in the same fashion, suggesting No Doubt did not exercise due diligence before entering into the agreement.

The publisher also included a copy of its deal with No Doubt, which states that "Artist's likeness other than in a 'billing block' fashion on the back of the packaging for the Game, and the b-roll and photography or other representation of the Services or of Artist, shall be subject to Artist's prior written approval." The part of the agreement detailing how much No Doubt was paid for the game was redacted in the court filing, but other terms of the deal were included, such as a five-year exclusivity clause prohibiting the band from allowing its music in any other company's rhythm games.

As for Activision's counterclaim against No Doubt, the publisher alleges that the band backed out of contractually obligated promotional services for the game. Specifically, the agreement included in the filing lists a handful of press interviews, a pair of video "shout outs" for the game, and placement of Band Hero branding on the band's official sites as the extent of its promotional obligations. Activision is asking for damages and a refund of the money it paid for No Doubt's inclusion in the game in the first place.

No Doubt's members aren't the only rock stars uncomfortable with the unlockable aspect of stars in Activison's Hero series of games. When Guitar Hero 5 allowed users to play as the late Kurt Cobain on songs by dozens of artists like Bon Jovi, Public Enemy, and even No Doubt, the Nirvana frontman's widow Courtney Love threatened to sue Activision. Cobain's bandmates in Nirvana stopped short of threatening litigation, but requested that Activision patch the game to prohibit using the singer's likeness in other band's songs.

No Doubt also asked Activision to do the same, a request that the publisher denied, saying in its suit that the band made its request only after work on Band Hero had finished and the game had already entered console makers' reviews processes.

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157 comments
SGZiming
SGZiming

No Doubt's gonna lose the lawsuit. The company with MW2 under their belt CAN DO ANYTHING!!11 YEEEEEEAHHHHHHHH!!21211!!11

Legendary_Ross
Legendary_Ross

It'll be interesting to see how this will pan out. If Activision creates a bad name for themselves among music artists it may affect them drastically in the future.

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

And in the midst of all this, one question: Whooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cares?

thisisreallybor
thisisreallybor

i have "no doubt" that i'll go as Kurt Cobain next halloween ... and then get sued

Scisor50
Scisor50

Until they release a Call of Duty 5 2 -_-

Kranberrysauce
Kranberrysauce

Honestly, I think "RedChuckz" has it on the money; there's no other logical/ reasonable explanation to explain that whole situation...... If anyone here is a fan of good music and/or games I think they will agree with me.

Kranberrysauce
Kranberrysauce

I concur Mr. Awesone................you feel me?.................

Mister__Awesome
Mister__Awesome

No Doubt needs to stop this little charade. Seems like a gimmick and attempt to get some money and much needed attention for their band.

DFen
DFen

dont matter, activision will forever make money off the cod series lol

BornGamer
BornGamer

Activision are a blight on the gaming industry, and Bobby Kotick has the kind of face you'd never tire of kicking.

howlingmage
howlingmage

SAY WHAT!!!!! Did Activision get sued over guitar Hero 5 for the same thing to. it will be good to see in a court room it would be dume Vs dummer.

Simulator_Shock
Simulator_Shock

I wish Activision would get sued and lose tons of money, not for this but because they are such a terrible company.

madscott
madscott

Redchuck: "You might want to read the article it's not EA its Activision the company that makes the over hyped Call of Duty franchise" Was it the children comment? Oh well, Im just glad somone spent the time to read my opinion so intently to catch it. None-the-less you deserve a gold star for attentiveness.

gnbfd
gnbfd

What the hell? No more No Doubt in Rock Band? I mean we got an album but still they're one of my favorite bands :( Also, how many times has Activision been sued this year? It should be the most of any game company shouldn't it?

ngboy
ngboy

Binarynova: how is the name "rock band" remotely even close to sounding like "guitar hero" other than the fact that they're both dealing with music? ;)

Binarynova
Binarynova

All of this hub-bub for a game that should have been Rock Band DLC in the first place. ;) Edit: Sorry, Guitar Hero DLC. "Let's name our game really close to the competition so people can more easily get us confused."

CyleM
CyleM

I hate both parties that are in this lawsuit...

malikmmm
malikmmm

i hate this stefini or whatever. i hope she loose this battle and sink into the lower dedpth of abyss.

ACx7
ACx7

A horrible singing Group that is no longer together, vs one of the most powerful publishing companies in the Videogame Industry... I dont think this is an issue worth writing about..........

oneligas
oneligas

this law suit is the battle of lamer vs lamer

snarl2
snarl2

Here's the new title for her next song, Cry Baby!!!

Frosty192
Frosty192

i dont see why singers care so damn much that they are unlockable characters and obviously going to be animated to sing other peoples songs..whoop de doo go freaking cry about it god damn they complain about everything like 7 year old girls that didnt get a malibu barbie for xmas

ThisIsntLeonard
ThisIsntLeonard

All things considered, EA isn't terrible. They're just smart. Yes, they push out Madden's every year, with little changes. But if there is no competition, then there is no reason to spend money and time to revolutionize a game that sells millions already. If EA were as bad as Activision, we'd see four versions of Madden released in a year: Football Hero, Madden Legend, Madden Online, and Madden 10. And Madden Arcade. Look at some of their other franchises. Skate was great to beat out Tony Hawk. Dead Space is a great IP. Brutal Legend is decent. Rock Band is always one-upping Guitar Hero. NHL 10 is incredible, and it has to be to stand up to NHL2k10. And FIFA wins about five sports game awards a year, with little to no competition. I've seen much worse than EA. I've begun to forget about how "immoral" they are, or were. Activision is the new king of douche-baggery.

RedChuckz
RedChuckz

madscott Posted Dec 10, 2009 7:12 pm GMT Hold on children. Like it or not this is how contract disputs are settled in America. One group(No Doubt) has a disagreement with the definitions of a contract the other group(EA) disputtes this..........so they go to a third party (Courts) to sort the mess out legally(weird isnt it). Its not evil "EA" or evil "No Doubt". Its not a debate as to how much tail a real guitarist gets in comparison to a kid who just wants to play a GAME. Its simply an every day contract dispute. You might want to read the article it's not EA its Activision the company that makes the over hyped Call of Duty franchise.

Kranberrysauce
Kranberrysauce

This takes No Doubt's cred way down..........not that they had much to begin with.........

heznave
heznave

mesk, i agree, thank you. ever since activision has started "exploiting" (in koticks own words) IP's i have forgotten about EA. the only positive thing about EA is they tend to publish new and interesting IP's that activision wont touch anymore (example: brutal legend). though they have ruined many franchises and pump out the same sports games every year with a new number...

madscott
madscott

Hold on children. Like it or not this is how contract disputs are settled in America. One group(No Doubt) has a disagreement with the definitions of a contract the other group(EA) disputtes this..........so they go to a third party (Courts) to sort the mess out legally(weird isnt it). Its not evil "EA" or evil "No Doubt". Its not a debate as to how much tail a real guitarist gets in comparison to a kid who just wants to play a GAME. Its simply an every day contract dispute.

Dream_Warrior
Dream_Warrior

These whiny jerks should shut up but I do agree with mesk14, Activision and EA are ruining video games. Why do I need to give a blood sample just to access multiplayer features in a game I purchased legally, huh EA?

jello_flouride
jello_flouride

These game lawsuits are beginning to get a little stupid...

ndewitt2003
ndewitt2003

Hey when you make deals with the devil expect to get burned No Doubt. Same goes to Courtney Love who had to sign the same deal for Curt's likeness I am sure. Maybe they need to hire better lawyers to read the contract better.

abbnormmal
abbnormmal

"I hate it when fans like our Band! And they want to put our songs on their youtube videos, and make their game characters look like us, and listen to our CDs everywhere they go on their mp3 player of choice! Bring out the lawyers and get me a box of tissue, how DARE those stupid fans, im gonna cry!!!!!"

mesk14
mesk14

@heznave activision&EA are ruining videogames

mesk14
mesk14

these lawsuits are getting extremely ridiculous now.everyone wants to sue for little insignifigant reasons.ohh boo hoo they are using my videogame likeness for singing songs that arent ours ohh boo hoo we are damaged for life now.shut up and grow up no doubt,after all u guys have been around since caveman days.

JHG6784
JHG6784

another stupid lawsuit against the gaming industry. I'm just waiting for some fat kid to sue video games for making him fat.

X-RS
X-RS

ACTIVISON you SUCK!!!! -!!!STOP!!!- SUEING! MAKE GAMES like HEAVY GEAR III!!! this looks lame, GAMING COMPANY vs. BAND.

heznave
heznave

activision is ruining the video game world. plain and simple. if you don't agree then keep buying their crappy software and keep the engine going and eventually all we will have to play is call of duty 10 and guitar hero: nickelback. mw2 was a step back from cod4.

1425678786655
1425678786655

ya no doubt isn't that good and this is just another milked activision game.. how much money do they need?

Barighm
Barighm

Riiight...as long as we believe you didn't fully follow the contractual agreement, we can do whatever we want with your physical likeness and if you don't like it, you can talk to my lawyer.

mesk14
mesk14

@evil_robo be popular at parties?lmao what kind of parties do u play videogames at?maybe i am missing the point but i have never attended parties where playing videogames made u popular.guess i was too busy talking to girls and trying to get laid.but to each his own,music genre games just arent for me.and all i was saying is that u will benefit in the long run from learning to play a real instrument.i dont really see anyone telling stories when they are older about how good they were playing fake instuments and videogame music.this genre is just a phase.it will long be forgotten in videogame history.,just like pokemon and other goofy things like that.also u really dont believe that ppl will rather flock to ppl playing videogame instruments to someone who plays a real instument.i dont think so

squidracerX
squidracerX

Both sides have so much money that these lawsuits are pointless... rich people suing rich people... at least no doubt would get out of the 5 year "exclusive" deal, so they should just do that.....

christ4ever9889
christ4ever9889

I don't know what to say, I mean I don't think I'd care if it was me but maybe if someone walked in on someone playing Taylor Swift with No Doubt's people, it may give No Doubt a reputation of playing other types of music, I don't know.

ptown58
ptown58

Sounds like a really fun game, 'nt. I want the patch that lets me play as a lawyer that ROCK$$. The rock (brains) stars should have known, play as Curt Cobain ? isn't that guy dead ? do you play as a zombie or something.

biosciguy
biosciguy

Hope Pitfall Harry doesn't come out and sue next

EYE0NE
EYE0NE

@ jmartinez1983 Well I know. I just don't see why they care. I don't think I would give a flying crap if it were me. Who the hell cares?

lukas1051
lukas1051

I think we established a long time ago that a) nobody cares about No Doubt anymore and b) Activison are a bunch of money-grabbing bastards. This story isn't exactly shocking...

Tylsamzx
Tylsamzx

Who .... the .... f*** .... cares .......