Call of Duty’s portrayal of former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega is justified under the First Amendment, according to Activision legal eagle and one-time New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
In a post-hearing press conference last week, Giuliani said he is “morally outraged” that “a man like Noriega is seeking to inhibit our creative rights in the United States”.
“If creative rights have to be sacrificed, they shouldn’t be sacrificed for someone like Noriega, nor should anyone have to send millions of dollars down to a Panamanian jail because this madman is making absurd claims,” he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I think a man that engaged in selling $200 million of cocaine in the United States, who knows how many children he killed, a man who was a dictator of his country in which he tortured people for nine years, a man who laundered money in France, a man who chopped the head off of one of his allies and then was convicted in three countries, who is sitting in jail in Panama, trying to recover because he is a minor, minor figure in a very excellent game, Call of Duty by Activision, is an outrage.”
Giuliani said the case differs from those like No Doubt vs Activision because Noriega is an historical figure, not a celebrity. The lawyer warned a judgment in Noriega’s favour could have severe consequences for other media such as novels and movies.
“If Noriega were to succeed in this case, as I told the judge, Bin Laden’s heirs would be able to sue for Zero Dark Thirty,” he said.
“Noriega is a part of history. As a part of history, he doesn’t own his own history any more than I do mine or President Bush owns his.”
Noriega is suing Activision over the unauthorised use of his likeness in Call of Duty: Blacks Ops 2, saying he learned of his appearance when his grandchildren asked why he was being presented in-game as a villain.
“Wait till they see the picture of General Noriega chopping Hugo Spadafora’s head off,” Giuliani said.
“I wonder how upset they’re going to be by that. The reality is, General Noriega created his history. This is the least of the problems he’s going to have to deal with with his grandchildren.