[W]hen the Los Angeles-based Activision company Blizzard, Inc. created a game known as the “Black Ops II,” there is no way they could have known they would be tasked with defending the entire genre of historical fiction. Or, that the game would bring together a former New York City Mayor, a famous gangsta rapper, an old drug baron and the real former dictator, Manuel Noriega.
“Black Ops II,” which featured historically iconic villains, ruthless dictators and vaunted heroes has pissed off Manuel Noriega, the former Panamanian dictator, and convicted murderer. In 2014, Noriega filed a lawsuit against Blizzard Inc., challenging his inclusion in the game. The CEO’s of Blizzard Inc. hired politically connected former New York Mayor/Attorney Rudy Giuliani to defend themselves against the lawsuit.
The “Black Ops II” game was part of the “Call of Duty” franchise that contained various stories, ranging from the Cold War to WWII to current affairs. To increase the game’s realism, Blizzard Inc. hired former deputy director of the National Security Council, Oliver North, who acted as a consultant for portions of “Black Ops II.”
Noriega claimed he filed the lawsuit because he felt that his rights were infringed on by public depiction brought via the “Black Ops II” game. In response, Activision/Blizzard challenged the lawsuit arguing the inclusion of Noriega in the game was protected by free speech laws. Just recently, Giuliani appeared in Los Angeles Superior Court to represent the “Black Ops II” franchise. According to Giuliani, Manuel Noriega was merely presented in an inconsequential appearance in the game, which exhibited no element pointing to his role as a brutal dictator.
|Freeway Ricky Ross explains his connections to Oliver North, President Reagan, and The Iran-Contra scandal in the documentary “Crack in the System.”|
In an amazing twist, part of Rudy Giuliani’s defense rested on the precedent set by a high-profile lawsuit that pitted rapper Rick Ross against former drug kingpin “Freeway” Ricky Ross and the usage of his [Freeway Rick’s] name and image. In that case, a judge ruled that the rapper’s music was transformative because rather than “seeking to profit solely off the name and reputation of Rick Ross,” the Miami rap star “made music out of fictional tales of dealing drugs and other exploits—some of which related to plaintiff.”
Giuliani argued to a judge that if the Manuel Noriega lawsuit were allowed to proceed, it could set a precedent and have ramifications for the
whole genre of historical fiction. Rudy expressed his displeasure with the convicted murderer for attempting to make a mockery out of the United States’ legal system and the fundamental right of freedom of speech. The case was dismissed.
“This ruling is an important victory and we thank the court for protecting free speech,” said Rudy Giuliani. “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.”
The lawsuit filed by Noriega had slim chances of succeeding from the beginning. The creators have a right to freedom of speech. It is also vital to note that games are similar to other works of art presented via books, documentaries, movies, television programs, and paintings. The game was not meant to humiliate Noriega. In fact, other prominent historical individuals were featured in the game as well, including John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, Fidel Castro and others.