Panama’s former dictator, Manuel Noriega, recently sued Activision Blizzard in the California Superior Court for using his likeness and image in the popular video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops II.” In his complaint, Noriega alleged that the use of his likeness violated his right of publicity. Former New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, came to Activision’s defense, and filed a motion to dismiss, which was granted. In granting Activision’s motion, the court held that Activision’s use of Noriega’s likeness was transformative and did not violate his right of publicity. This Issue Brief argues that the California Superior Court should not have applied the transformative use test but should have held that Manuel Noriega did not have a right of publicity for his place in Panama’s history.
Joshua Sinclair, Noriega v. Activision/Blizzard: The First Amendment Right to Use a Historical Figure's Likeness in Video Games, 14 Duke Law & Technology Review 69-82 (2015)