No Doubt attorney speaks out against Activision in Band Hero suit

Rock band's legal representation at Kendall Brill & Klieger says group has lost millions, hopes Activision will apologize; case going before jury October 15 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The legal proceedings between No Doubt and international heavyweight publisher Activision over Band Hero will go before a jury beginning October 15 in Los Angeles Superior Court, the band's legal representation has told GameSpot.

No Doubt vs. Activision goes before a jury October 15.

No Doubt attorney Bert Deixler explained that the band has suffered losses of millions, that Activision's "meritless" appeals have delayed the case, and that the publisher's settlement offers thus far have been lacking. Deixler also claimed that Activision secretly hired actors to design dance moves for Band Hero that no member of No Doubt had ever performed.

No Doubt sued Activision in November 2009, claiming the publisher had no contractual right to allow the group's in-game avatars to be used to perform other artists' songs. The band took exception in its suit with having individual band members perform other artists' songs, particularly those that include suggestive lyrics such as The Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women." The suit claims this action turns the band "into a virtual karaoke circus act."

Activision countersued No Doubt a month later, saying 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.

Activision's legal team did not respond to interview requests.

GameSpot: No Doubt originally sued Activision in 2009. Why are the proceedings taking so long?

Bert Deixler: Activision has delayed by filing unsuccessful motions and taking meritless appeals from losing motions. And, of course, the courts are crowded, and we had to return to the end of the line to wait for a courtroom.

GS: In Activision’s immediate 2009 countersuit, the publisher claimed No Doubt did not exercise due diligence before entering the agreement for Band Hero and that it was “publicly known” that avatars could be unlocked and used to sing other songs. What’s your response to this?

BD: It’s nonsense. The contract clearly defined the rights of the parties. Two superior court judges, three appellate court judges, seven California Supreme Court justices, and a federal judge all agree that Activision’s rights are limited to the contract. Activision’s “publicly known” argument is irrelevant, and, incidentally, false. Indeed, several of their executives testified that they didn’t know about unlocking.

GS: In May, superior court judge Ramona See ruled that the case should go before a jury because of “genuine disputes” including questions of “loss.” How will you prove No Doubt’s unauthorized appearance in the game caused them loss?

"Activision even went as far as secretly hiring actors to create dance movements for the game that no band member has ever performed."

BD: We don’t license the use of our songs and our appearances for free. Here, we licensed No Doubt’s appearance for three songs, but Activision instead used it in 63 unpermitted songs. Activision also created a game that, contrary to No Doubt’s rights, allows for any member of No Doubt to appear as a solo artist, as a member of another group, or as a performer in a capacity that he or she never actually performs in. Activision even went as far as secretly hiring actors to create dance movements for the game that no band member has ever performed. There’s no question that there’s loss, and it is millions and millions of dollars. A jury will understand why the use of an artist’s appearance to endorse projects without permission is harmful. Many, many artists have succeeded when they complained about having their valuable names and likeness taken without permission. Our experts will have innumerable examples.

GS: No Doubt has won numerous partial victories thus far in the case against Activision, including having several Activision claims tossed out, as well as a request to have the matter bumped up to a federal court. How have these decisions advanced No Doubt’s argument against Activision?

"So far Activision has been ordered to pay No Doubt nearly $100,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs, and Activision continues to pursue a strategy that will have it financing both sides of the lawsuit. That’s a pretty bad business idea."

BD: Yes, our legal judgments have proven to be correct and Activision’s have proven to be incorrect repeatedly. We look forward to presenting our case to the jury. Activision will come to recognize that its strategy of ignoring No Doubt’s rights, then ignoring No Doubt’s requests that it not release the infringing game, then delaying and losing appeals and motions in an effort to discourage No Doubt from pursuing its claims has just run up the costs that Activision will wind up paying. So far Activision has been ordered to pay No Doubt nearly $100,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs, and Activision continues to pursue a strategy that will have it financing both sides of the lawsuit. That’s a pretty bad business idea.

GS: Activision recently settled in a high-profile case against fired developers Jason West and Vince Zampella for an undisclosed sum. Is a settlement at all possible in the case between No Doubt and Activision?

BD:Settlement is always possible. Unfortunately, Activision’s settlement proposals thus far have not reflected its substantial exposure to millions of dollars in damages and attorneys’ fees. Should a proposal be forthcoming that does, No Doubt will entertain it. If not, the case will go to trial, and No Doubt will prevail and obtain a jury award that will have Activision regretting its decision to abuse these artists’ rights and wishing it had settled this case when it had the chance.

GS: What does No Doubt want from Activision in this case?

BD: Ideally they would like Activision to apologize and promise to never mistreat artists in the manner they have mistreated No Doubt and countless others. The group told Activision repeatedly that they were not interested in filing a lawsuit and that they didn’t want this to happen. Now No Doubt is stuck asking for compensation for the misappropriation of its rights, and an injunction preventing the continued sale and future release of the infringing product.

GS: Lastly, what are the implications here, provided No Doubt emerges the victor?

BD: Artists can’t allow themselves to be ripped off by multi-national billion dollar companies that act only in their own financial best interest while completely ignoring legally binding agreements. We hope Activision has learned a lesson and will think twice when deciding to risk the cost of litigation as a business practice as a result of No Doubt bringing this lawsuit, and, if it persists in taking this case to trial, Activision will be forced to learn an even harsher and more expensive lesson.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

98 comments
AshTrai
AshTrai

Like most of the other posters...i find it hard to believe that No Doubt suffered millions of dollars worth of damages (minus the court case costs obviously) - How can that value be justified.

 

Also, why are No Doubt suing for an injunction preventing the continued sale of the game. Wouldn't it be smarter to just have the game modified so that they cannot perform anything but their own stuff?

 

 

adam1808
adam1808

Music games guys, remember them?

okassar
okassar

I doubt (hehe) that this actually caused them that much loss, BUT I hope they win because the point is Activision had no right no use their images. That's especially in the manner they were portrayed in.

namdar
namdar

It aint no party like an S club party... oh wait wrong band :D

DrKill09
DrKill09

No Doubt suck.  Gimme Hole, L7, or 7 Year B|tch.

BibiMaghoo
BibiMaghoo

If they win, Courtney Love will also win.

 

No one could possibly want that to happen.

mos2000
mos2000

I don't think money is the point. No Doubt saw a practice that disregarded a parties contractual agreement they have the notability and access to do something about it, so they did so i applaud them for it.  Activision must be the WORST multi-billion dollar company in the world.  First the whole fiasco with West and Zamp, now the lawyers are arguing about something they felt was"publicly known"??? What does that have to do with what's in a contract??  Where do they get their lawyers form that are advising them this stuff is ok??  Or is it they just try to pull any BS and simply use lawyers to make up any legal argument they can pull out their @$$

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

Man so many frivolous law suits in the videogame indu-*sees that it is Activision*  Sue right away No Doubt!

franzito
franzito

Image IS everything these days but is kinda hard to believe No Doubt suffered that loss of money...

Darth_Tyrranus
Darth_Tyrranus

Judging from this interview, it does sound like Activision broke their contract with No Doubt.  However, I find it very hard to believe that No Doubt suffered millions of dollars of damages just because their avatars were in some extra songs.  It will be interesting to see how they try to quantify these "millions of dollars" in court.

iluvOP
iluvOP

Implying that No doubt wasnt a "karaoke circus act" from the beginning. No one liked them back then and no one likes them today. Geez

x-TwilighT-x
x-TwilighT-x

I wasn't even aware they were in this game, I mean honestly. Who cares, your No Doubt Characters were not endorsing other products when playing other songs. Just because G.I. Joe rides in the Bat Mobile doesn't mean snake eyes endorses Batman, I just made the little bastard sit in it.

Vickman178
Vickman178

Did is the most ridiculous think i've ever heard. Honestly Activision isn't the best game company but I mean I hope they win this. How something like this even go on for this long?

Richmaester6907
Richmaester6907

Activision has piles of cash to burn just give them their money say sorry and get on milking your games. Its alot cheaper than running up court bills to artists nobody even listens too.

Erebus
Erebus

Oh... a No Doubt joke you say?I doubt that No Doubt can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Activision undoubtedly caused doubt for No Doubt's image.. ...even though it's a civil matter and therefore based on the preponderance of the evidence.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Take Activision to the cleaners.

Senor_Kami
Senor_Kami

Ahh, this is gold.  I like how motion capturing is referred to as, "as far as secretly hiring actors to create dance movements for the game that no band member has ever performed."

 

I hope No Doubt loses this.  I like a lot of their music but this is ridiculous.  LOL @ lost millions.  If the new album flops hard it'll be because of that god awful second Gwen Stefani solo album, not because a music game functioned like every music game.

OHGFawx
OHGFawx

Well Activision's legal team stays busy, that much is certain.

sonicare
sonicare

How did 'No Doubt' lose millions?  Did the depiction of them in this game cause fans to suddenly stop buying their albums?  Not sure if I read this right.

VirtualTofu
VirtualTofu

If I create Gwen Stefani in WWE 12, will I be sued?

VirtualTofu
VirtualTofu

I have no doubt that No Doubt will win this lawsuit.

wasakawaka
wasakawaka

This is why our court systems are so bogged down in western society and over what I think is very frivolous.  

Its a broken up band not wanting their avatars in a virtual world playing other bands music. Sounds more like another way for lawyers to make money.

RedLegZeff
RedLegZeff

"We hope activision has learned a lesson and will think twice when deciding to risk the cost of litigation as a business practice as a result.." NOPE.

BlackDevil99
BlackDevil99

How has a judge not just laughed this out of court yet?

beuneus12
beuneus12

this article is on the same level as me forgetting to tie my shoes

GunBladeHero
GunBladeHero

*Waits for someone to come with a no doubt joke.*

Nikore
Nikore

Feigned outrage just isn't that convincing anymore. It's tough to have any sympathy towards No Doubt or their attorneys. I would have so much more respect for lawyers if they could just tell it like it is. Why can't Deixler just say, "I know it sounds stupid, and it's barely even an issue, but there's a chance that we could win a few million bucks from this whole avatar thing, so I figured it's worth a shot. Oh and by the way, the people at Activision are a bunch of a-holes."

ScreamDream
ScreamDream

No Doubt lost millions because people can decide if they want to use their Avatar? LOL.

MrHatnClogs
MrHatnClogs

"It's not about money, it's about sending a message."

saltbalsak
saltbalsak

Hmmm...No Doubt still attempting an obvious cash-grab from Activision who wrote the book on cash grabs. Worst of luck to both you.

00Joseph00
00Joseph00

Who cares? Oh yeah, nobody.P.S. No Doubt still exists?

Bubbagum_Bish
Bubbagum_Bish

Hmm... Can't say I care about this one. Easy game. Bad music(imo).

Boochie
Boochie

1st world problems for everyone involved.

RE2LeonS
RE2LeonS

Good, sue the hell out of Activision to the point they can't release another friggin Call of Duty

SolidTy
SolidTy

Pretty lame case, but whatever. A contract's a contract.

soulless4now
soulless4now

I almost forgot about this case since it has taken so long. 

 

Where's that Spiderman meme when you need it? 

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

 @AshTrai They are stating that No Doubt asked Activision ahead of the launch of the game to postpone and remove those features. Activision ignored and released the game. Every box of the game that was sold infringed on the agreement. This is likely how they are calculating the damages. Plus they will throw some superficial stuff about how No Doubt's image was damaged and cause loss of sales for the bands other endeavors. 

Undietaker
Undietaker

 @okassar

 The loss of revenue comes directly from the game. As in Activision payed them royalties to appear in 3 songs, let's say they paid 100k(don't know the real figures) for each one. Instead of just those 3 songs Activision have used their likeness(appearance) for 63 songs. Essentally Activision have paid them 300k for 6.3 million dollars worth of appearance fees.

Xdz89
Xdz89

 @Darth_Tyrranus  I was under the impression that "millions of dollars" was for the license fees (or lack thereof) for the band members likenesses. If the contract was to use their likenesses for three songs and they are available for 63 others then they are using them without paying for it. I think its stupid to even have to pay for this, since if I REALLY wanted to play as "No Doubt" I could just create them, but whatever....

booty56
booty56

 @VirtualTofu I created Rush's lead singer and bassist Geddy Lee on Legends of Westlemainia

RedLegZeff
RedLegZeff

 @Nikore Um, the activision are a bunch of a-holes part is convincing.