Activision: Noriega's Call of Duty Lawsuit Is an "Outrageous Offense" to First Amendment

Rudy Giuliani says, "I am morally outraged that a man like Noriega is seeking to inhibit our creative rights in the United States."

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Former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega's lawsuit against Activision over Call of Duty: Black Ops II is an "outrageous offense to the First Amendment." That quote comes from former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is paid to defend Activision in the high-profile case. Following yesterday's legal proceedings in Los Angeles Superior Court, Giuliani spoke to press about Noriega's claims.

"I am morally outraged that a man like Noriega is seeking to inhibit our creative rights in the United States," Giuliani said, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. "If creative rights have to be sacrificed, they shouldn't be sacrificed for someone like Noriega, nor should anyone have to send millions of dollars down to a Panamanian jail because this madman is making absurd claims."

Noriega in Black Ops II
Noriega in Black Ops II

Giuliani then went on to assassinate Noriega's character, though how relevant this is to the case is a matter for debate.

"I think a man that engaged in selling $200 million of cocaine in the United States, who knows how many children he killed, a man who was a dictator of his country in which he tortured people for nine years, a man who laundered money in France, a man who chopped the head off of one of his allies and then was convicted in three countries, who is sitting in jail in Panama, trying to recover because he is a minor, minor figure in a very excellent game, Call of Duty by Activision, is an outrage," Giuliani added.

Following his ouster as Panama's dictator in 1989, Noriega was arrested for money laundering and drug trafficking in 1992. He has been in prison in Panama since 2011. But in July, his legal team filed a lawsuit against Activision, accusing the publisher of "blatant misuse, unlawful exploitation, and misappropriation for economic gain" of his image in the 2012 shooter--which has generated over $1 billion in sales to date.

Activision wants the case tossed out, arguing that the depiction of Noriega in Black Ops II represents "transformative" use, and is thus protected under the First Amendment. The publisher is trying to argue that a win for Noriega could "open the floodgates" for other historical figures to sue over their depictions in games, movies, TV shows, and books.

During the court proceedings, attorney William Gibbs argued on behalf of Noriega. He cited examples such as the No Doubt Band Hero lawsuit, which resulted in a ruling in the plaintiffs' favor. However, Giuliani responded by claiming this case is different because, in his opinion, Noriega is a historical figure and not a celebrity, as was the case for the No Doubt case.

Giuliani and his legal team also say Noriega's scenes in Black Ops II only span about 6-7 minutes out of a 6-7 hour game. Noriega's legal team, however, argued that this 6-7 minutes could become much longer given that players can alter the pace in which they play, or even replay the game to see Noriega's scenes again.

Noriega's lawsuit against Activision is not the only high-profile video game case in motion currently. Mean Girls actress Lindsay Lohan is suing Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive over Grand Theft Auto V, saying the open-world game used her likeness without permission.

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