Noriega’s Black Ops II lawsuit thrown out of court

The LA Superior Court has dismissed a lawsuit from former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega aimed at Call of Duty: Black Ops II publisher Activision.

Noriega filed a lawsuit in July claiming that the publisher had of the "blatant misuse, unlawful exploitation and misappropriation” of his image for economic gain" in the game.

The ruling marked a significant victory for the genre of historical fiction in all types of expressive works of art, including videogames, movies, television and books,” Activision claimed.

The stories in the Call of Duty franchise, like many movies and television programs, are inspired from the headlines of history. From the Cold War to World War II and even the advanced soldiers featured in the upcoming Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the games are grounded in historical events even though they are fictional. Call of Duty regularly features iconic villains, such as Fidel Castro and Manuel Noriega, as well as celebrated heroes such as President John F. Kennedy.

In the unlikely event the lawsuit had been permitted to proceed, Noriega’s efforts could have provided numerous historical and political figures a veto right over their appearances in works of art, having a chilling effect on everything from movies like Forrest Gump and Zero Dark Thirty, to television programs including Saturday Night Live and Boardwalk Empire and even to popular books such as The Paris Wife.”

Former New York major and current US attorney Rudy Giuliani, who served on the case, added: This ruling is an important victory and we thank the court for protecting free speech.

This was an absurd lawsuit from the very beginning and we’re gratified that in the end, a notorious criminal didn’t win. This is not just a win for the makers of Call of Duty, but is a victory for works of art across the entertainment and publishing industries throughout the world.”

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