[Update] Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani To Defend Activision Against Manuel Noriega

by Mike Futter on Sep 22, 2014 at 09:43 AM

Update: Activision and its attorneys, led by former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, have filed a motion to dismiss former dictator Manuel Noriega's suit over his likeness in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Giuliani is confident in Activision's position, but says there is a chance that should the motion be denied, he'll lead the litigation in court.

In his prepared statements, Giuliani said that Activision's case is based on a number of things. The first is that Noriega's appearance in Black Ops II is transformative, putting the former leader in a fictional set of circumstances (and therefore protected by free speech). Additionally, Noriega's likeness was not used to promote the game, as he's a "bit player" in a cast of over 45. 

Additionally, Noriega only appears in less than 1 percent of the game. Giuliani tells us this is defined as a percentage of average play time across single-player, multiplayer, and zombie modes.

The former mayor and United States attorney also says that the case is important for works of art, including books, movies, and video games. "This could have a chilling effect on all works of art," he stated when questioned as to why someone so high profile is handling the matter. While Giulianni has not played Black Ops II himself, he has watched the game "all the way through" and then revisited the scenes with Noriega. 


Original Story:

Activision is moving today to have the lawsuit brought by former leader of Panama Manuel Noriega. Noriega sued Activision in July over his appearance in 2012’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

Activision has announced that former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani will defend against the allegations as part of the law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP. Counsel will move to dismiss the case under the grounds that Noriega’s appearance is considered free speech.

"What's astonishing is that Manuel Noriega, a notorious dictator who is in prison for the heinous crimes he committed, is upset about being portrayed as a criminal and enemy of the state in the game Call of Duty. Quite simply, it's absurd," says Giuliani. "I'm not interested in giving handouts to a convicted murderer and drug smuggler like Manuel Noriega who is demanding money from Activision and its popular Call of Duty franchise for simply exercising its right to free speech. Noriega's attack on the rights of Call of Duty comes as no surprise considering he's a lawless tyrant who trampled over the rights of his own people."

The motion will be filed today in the Superior Court in the State of California. A complete listing of the to-be-filed legal documents is available from Activision.

Note: This story originally indicated Noriega was in Call of Duty: Ghosts. That has been corrected, and we apologize for the error.


Our Take
Activision’s plan to dismiss the case is no surprise, but the involvement of Rudy Giuliani is. I expect that this case will be cleared from the docket rather quickly once Activision files its motion.