Noriega sues Activision over likeness used in Call of Duty

16 Jul 2014

'Manuel Noriega' in Call of Duty: Black Ops II

One-time dictator of Panama and friend/enemy of the US Manuel Noriega is suing the makers of the Call of Duty gaming franchise over his likeness being used in Black Ops II.

Released in 2012, the game put the player as a commando during a raid involving US Special Forces and the Panamanian army under the command of Noriega in Nicaragua on an alleged drug cartel.

Of course, as was the case in real life, Noriega turns his back on the Americans and, in the game, confronts the lead character before being hunted down and arrested.

Now the 80-year-old Noriega, confined to a Panamanian prison, has received the help of a team of lawyers to draft a 13-page document detailing how is outraged at being shown as a “kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state” while being responsible for “numerous fictional crimes”, according to the BBC.

Of course the end goal is not an apology for the damage to his reputation, but rather financial gain as he claims that sales of the game were boosted due to the realistic nature of including him in the game.

A growing issue in video-games industry

In what is fast becoming a common issue with video-game creators, individuals and even sports teams have been filing similar lawsuits claiming their likeness has been used but for Noriega, the chances of him receiving a penny are slim, according to one interactive entertainment lawyer.

“It all focuses upon the American legal ability for an individual to be only depicted with their permission, which in practice means payment of a fee,” said Jas Purewal.

“But Noriega isn’t a US citizen or even a resident. This means that his legal claim becomes questionable, because it’s unclear on what legal basis he can actually bring a case against Activision.”

So far, Activision has declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic