No Doubt belts out Band Hero lawsuit

Gwen Stefani and company claim Activision had no contractual right to allow group's in-game avatars to be used to perform other artists' songs.

Activision's decision to include the late Kurt Cobain as a playable character in Guitar Hero 5 was considered by some to be tasteless. However, the situation turned into a public relations gaffe after the late singer's wife, Courtney Love, claimed that she hadn't been informed that Cobain's avatar would be able to perform any song in the game.

No Doubt's continued inclusion in Band Hero is less than certain.

Now, one more act has stepped up to protest the use of its in-game likeness in ways apparently not made clear by Activision. The Los Angeles Times reports today that No Doubt has filed a suit against Activision over its appearance in Band Hero, which debuted this week on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Wii, and DS. The suit reportedly claims that the publisher did not have the contractual right to allow No Doubt band members to be used in songs other than the ones they had provided for the game, those being "Just a Girl," "Don't Speak," and "Excuse Me Mr."

"The band [members] are bitterly disappointed that their name and likeness was taken and used without their permission," No Doubt manager Jim Guerinot told the LA Times. "They agreed to play three No Doubt songs as a band. ... Activision then went and put them in 62 other songs and broke the band up [and] never even asked."

No Doubt reportedly 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 Woman."

"While No Doubt are avid fans of the Rolling Stones and even have performed in concerts with the Rolling Stones, the Character Manipulation Feature results in an unauthorized performance by the Gwen Stefani avatar in a male voice boasting about having sex with prostitutes," the suit states.

The complaint reportedly goes on to note that Activision intentionally did not tell the members of No Doubt that their avatars could be used to perform other songs. The statement echoes an allegation leveled by '80s rock icon Jon Bon Jovi following the Cobain flap. Speaking about meeting with Activision about having his likeness appear in the game, Bon Jovi said that "no one even broached the subject with me that I would be singing other people's stuff."

No Doubt's complaint goes on to note that Activision refused to remove band members' likenesses from the game or lock them to the group's songs, with the publisher allegedly saying that such a move would be "too expensive."

"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," the publisher said in response to the suit. "Pursuant to that agreement, Activision worked with No Doubt and the band's management in developing Band Hero. ... Activision is exploring its own legal options with respect to No Doubt's obligations under the agreement."

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Discussion

234 comments
Apathetic_Prick
Apathetic_Prick

Looks like I'll probably be the last comment. Consider this: Someone else has already mentioned likeness and law. In the U.S. (and Canada, I believe), physical likeness is an entity of itself if you have an established image, trademarked or otherwise. Image goes hand-in-hand with credibility, and artists don't want to have thieir credibility affected. Of course, signing your likeness over for Rock Band or Guitar Hero would be the first strike against you...Not saying the games suck ( I rather like them, actually), just saying that if you're so concerned about looking like a sell-out, don't sell out.

green_dominator
green_dominator

It's cool that so many artists are allowing themselves to be shown digitally in games but at the same time developers and publishers need to realize that it's wrong and tacky to show respected members of bands and solo artists performing songs they wouldn't really perform or in cases where it's not possible like making a female character sing a song with a guys voice........ I've thought Activisions actions on this issue were bad and now it's getting worse......

peewizzle
peewizzle

i would be excited to be in a game PERIOD! who cares what im singing, to me its no big deal its just a game it seems that there will always be an endless amount of dissatisfaction no matter WHAT anyone does if their label's legal team didnt catch that during contractual negotiations that shame on them if activision did foul up on their end then shame of them them

KieranCottrell
KieranCottrell

How many more 'no doubt' puns is it going to take to end this trivial news story?

peetowser
peetowser

Hate Activision... Then again I wonder if No Doubt's management saw a MW2 ad and did the math. It's not like No Doubt is going to make decent money as a band ever again, might as well take *someone* to the lawyers...

msharki
msharki

Yeah No Doubt!!! Sue those bastard's at Activision.

PatIsStuupidd
PatIsStuupidd

No Doubt's label is Universal Records, by far the largest record label in the world. They have a legal team that could fill a small town. If you don't think that contract was read inside and out, you're not worth having a conversation with. Activision will probably settle, but if this goes to court they are in some serious trouble.

punkologist
punkologist

take them out of the game altogether, they are commercial rubbish anyway.

killerwaffles
killerwaffles

@Cabal23 Looks like SOMEONE read the wiki... Seriously, grammies and MTV awards hardly legitimize an "artist's" work. No Doubt is not made awesome just because you are a super fan. The point I was making is that they aren't current news and haven't been for some time.

jacobuj
jacobuj

They should file this one under who cares. That's great that No Doubt feel entitled, but with the shrinking sales and relevance of music rhythm games they aren't likely to get anywhere. One can only hope we see less Guitar Hero/Rock Band releases in the future. They will soon have worse resell value then EA's annual sports titles. Sad.

Dinkyfish
Dinkyfish

I think this is just pathetic - so what if a little computer person that looks vaguely like you is singing a song you didn't write? It's just a game, get over it No Doubt.

Reiken37
Reiken37

No Doubt vs Activision... I say No Doubt gets 300 grand and then goes away? Any other bets? This is all about the money, that misrepersentation is a load of crap.

Cabal23
Cabal23

And as for the relevance of No Doubt. They just finished a tour with almost all sold out dates. Are you thick or just like to bag on things you know nothing about? They have 9 grammy nomination, two of them won, 12 MTV music video nominations with 5 awards, and a new album coming next year. They have been around since 86. What few bands can you cite that have that kind of longevity? I don't think they are hurting as bad as all you haters think. You don't have to like their music , but like every American under the legal system, they have rights and it looks like someone took advantage of them.

Blue-Sky
Blue-Sky

@Cabal23 They are being paid for their likeness to be used, but just like the Kurt Cobain situation, they did not agree to be used playing other songs than their own.

Cabal23
Cabal23

So all of you would be fine with someone using your likeness in a game and not being reimbursed?

DeadSarow
DeadSarow

No Doubt no doubt has a huge ego.

Caer_Death
Caer_Death

@PatIsStuupidd Well, first, I would like to see a copy of the actual contract. Did it explicitly bar Activision from using No Doubt's avatars in songs other than those three? Going off of Guitar Heroes, where characters aren't linked to songs in most cases, you are able to use characters where you see fit. If Activision was licensed to use their image in this game without explicit restrictions on the songs listed, then it would be assumed that it would cover usage in whatever way was allowed. And besides, the game is rated E10+, meaning it's okay for everyone ten and up! Perfectly normal kids songs! :P

MrOrmond
MrOrmond

This lawsuit is to stupid as No Doubt is to bad. Though this game never needed to exist. I have mixed feelings about this one.

trek492germ539
trek492germ539

Hey did Slash file a law suit when his avatar was playing guitar an every song in GHIII? ...Nope, didn't think so...

pure_impact
pure_impact

Wow all this fuss over a darn game avatar? C'mon musicians get over yourselves already!!

lukas1051
lukas1051

"Feature results in an unauthorized performance by the Gwen Stefani avatar in a male voice boasting about having sex with prostitutes," the suit states." What? I thought the whole point of Band Hero is that it's family friendly. This doesn't bother me, I just don't see the point in releasing a new game if you don't even meet the target audience.

HerbalVideogame
HerbalVideogame

What's wrong with singing about having sex with prostitutes? :D Maybe she needs to stop sippin' on so much chamomile. I thought you were "fun" Gwen. Buncha wannabes.

killerwaffles
killerwaffles

These people are stupid. When was the last time anybody heard anything about No Doubt? Five? Ten Years ago? You signed over your likeness because nobody cares about you anymore and you need money. Now you complain because Stefani, who can't even sing her OWN music right, can be made to sing an awesome Stones song? QQ

PatIsStuupidd
PatIsStuupidd

It's amazing what a poor grasp of law this community has...EA was able to slide with Jim Brown and Big Dawg but I'm not so sure Activision will get away with this one if this goes to trial. American law is very clear about what you can and can't do with someones image and Activision seems to be in clear violation. The video game industry has been skirting these issues for decades...it's only a matter of time before some company loses a huge lawsuit and things change. @ Jackmouve... Criminal Court and Civil Court are two seperate things.

strahd01
strahd01

Look its obvious: Activision needs to start telling these stars the full deal, withholding information on the assumption that Gwen Stefani has played a Guitar Hero game is just bad business. Musicians are passionate about their music and also very protective of it (why do you think several bands including NiN and Metallica are upset there music has been used for torture?) Activision is shooting themselves in the foot here by stepping on musicians toes, because then other musicians won't want to negotiate the rights to use their music in the next guitar hero game. Activision just patch the game already and end this.

punkdsk8erdude
punkdsk8erdude

i think no doubt needs to chill the F*** out lmao. geeze...you get asked to be put in a video game, and then they go and complain about it? I could see where they are coming from, and their point, however i'd be honored if i was in a game and i wouldn't really care...

aChaChaCha
aChaChaCha

Spose its the only way for No Doubt to make some extra cash these days.

jayd02
jayd02

it just tells you how much they suck as a band when they have to cry because their cartoon video game character is playing somebody else' song word of advice to them get over yourself you suck as a band and activision was being nice to even put you in their game so get over it. At least your avatar is being used in the game

TheSnakeBelmont
TheSnakeBelmont

well ...i gues it was No Dout that with every music game from activision comes a lawsuit... its a bonnus ...ya know 4 fans ! :D

Jackmouve
Jackmouve

Courtroom - Mid Morning Judge: Ok, first case? Bailiff: Double homicide, man killed his wife and child. Preliminary trial ensues. Judge: Next case? Bailiff: Illegal use of cartoon character in a videogame. See how stupid that sounds? If I am the judge, I have ONE question..... NEXT CASE?

madSomnambulist
madSomnambulist

...Didn't we just have this same conversation a few months ago? Just with different persons, yet the same careless company involved. It's their right to be angry and I can (theoretically) see how some musicians would consider it akin to being photoshopped. Uh, but into a video game? Ok, I give up. If it's not in the contract then it's their own damn faults, and no matter what the outcome it makes both the band and the company look really foolish. Why don't people ever try mediation BEFORE publically filing legal papers? Good work, all.

falcOWNS
falcOWNS

lol they shouldnt be complaining, band hero was crappy anyways

aldrenar47
aldrenar47

Well, I would be pretty pissed too if I was an artist and they let my likeness be used with some lame songs, but I think a lawsuit is a bit much. They could have just released a statement and then stopped working with Activision in their future games...

24k_Solid_Gold
24k_Solid_Gold

"No Doubt's complaint goes on to note that Activision refused to remove band members' likenesses from the game or lock them to the group's songs, with the publisher allegedly saying that such a move would be "too expensive." " "too expensive" my ass, your Activision Blizzard for cryin' out loud.

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

This is a bit petty, but I have no doubt that No Doubt was uninformed.

gtracer65
gtracer65

HAHA! Activision doesn't care. so what if the characters are in the game. No Doubt...that their manager is crying since the band was "split up" in the game. so ridiculous

joelgau
joelgau

@ blakeney, are you so sure that wasn't in the contract? Activision is not stupid enough to withhold something like that from the artists, I am sure. You don't get big, rich and powerful by being a fool.

Thuganomic05
Thuganomic05

Are they serious? Their upset because of "They went and put them in 62 other songs and split the band up"? WTF. What a bunch of freaking babies. This is how you lose fans. If your a rock star and your fans are gamers, and most probably are. Then when you sue the game creator, well... Gamers aren't gonna side with musicians. Stupid move.

blakeney
blakeney

@ joelgau to be honest they were proberly doing something like working and not playing games, when all the other games came out lol! they are well within their rights to complain over this! activision knew what they were doing in not mentioing the fact.

Bleak5
Bleak5

Gwen needs to take a cue from her own song: Don't speak.

joelgau
joelgau

@ ParisSun, I would love to see Elvis sing "Baby Got Back." That, my friend, would be hilarious.

joelgau
joelgau

Rock stars are a bunch of spoiled brats. Shut up and deal with it! Give me a break! Didn't they notice in prior games that the avatars, once unlocked, could be used to sing other songs or play different instruments? I am sure that Activision gave them a fairly large sum of money and this was likely in the contract as some other here have said.

SnarfShady2001
SnarfShady2001

If you sign a contract allowing the use of your avatars in a game, but don't have a stipulation that it's only for use in performing certain songs, then you're out of luck. Gee, where might Activision have gotten the idea to have No Doubt break up and go their separate ways in the game? I wonder ... The issue here isn't that their avatars were used outside of the terms of the contract. It's that the band gave license for use of their avatars and were displeased with how they were used. If you REALLY cared, you'd put in a stipulation that it was only for certain songs or that you had to be part of the dev process. Contacts exist to stop people from saying "well I just assumed we agreed on this." Get a life.

delcidanddarth
delcidanddarth

I have never wanted to perform as any of the "real-life" characters. How far out of touch are these entertainers? "no one even broached the subject with me that I would be singing other people's stuff" is what Bon Jovi said.... uhhhhhh.... you AREN'T singing other people's stuff. If anything, your virtual (read: fake) avatar is lip-syncing! Oh, I'm sorry... I guess these musical artists are upset that they aren't doing what they normally do.... lip-syncing their own music.

polsci1503
polsci1503

How hard could it possibly be to lock the avatars to their respective songs?

vf21x
vf21x

AAAhhhhh. Poor little No Doubt is crying. BE QUIET!!!! They know what they signed but did not fully understand it. Deal with it Gwen!!

ParisSun
ParisSun

Activision is out of line. Real life bands and singers should be locked to their songs. If people want to use a different look then let them create their own Avatars. Clearly Activision is taking it's license further than a reasonable person would expect. And that's where this case will hinge. I wonder how people would feel if they had Johnny Cash or Elvis singing Sir Mix-a-Lots "Baby Got Back".