A California state court, interpreting the state’s “right of publicity” law, has ruled that the rights of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega were not infringed when he was turned into a character in the videogame Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Eugene Volokh has details [earlier].
“Former Panama dictator Manuel Noriega, 80, filed a lawsuit in California yesterday against video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc., alleging that Call of Duty: Black Ops II portrays him as ‘a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state.'” [Adrianne Jeffries/The Verge, New York Post, L.A. Times] Citing the mess that is California “right of publicity” law, Eugene Volokh writes that such a suit is “crazy, but unfortunately possible.”
Quoth California Sen. Leland Yee, D-S.F., would-be censor of violent video games, whose involvement in a wildly colorful arms-smuggling scandal, though neglected in some national media circles, lends irony to talk of the psychologically obscure Root Causes of Violence. Thanks, Sen. Credibility! [Lowering the Bar]
More: Leland Yee, international man of mystery: how’d he manage to duck terrorism charges? [Contra Costa Times]
The maker of the hit video game has obtained a trademark on the use of its name in games and clothing. King.com is asserting its legal rights not only against many games whose names include the word “Candy” — it will presumably make an exception for the old-time board game Candy Land — but also against various users of the word “Saga.” “We won’t make a viking saga without the word Saga, and we don’t appreciate anyone telling us we can’t,” said one group working on a game product that consumers are unlikely to confuse with the Candy Crush version. [GameSpot, A.V. Club, Anthony Wing Kosner/Forbes via Slashdot]
Electronic Arts no longer supports online play for older team sports simulations for which there is little or no consumer demand, since play based on several-year-old team rosters does not excite very many customers. This makes customer Justin Bassett very sad, to hear his class action lawyers tell it, and he is suing in New York (but under California law) to get the problem fixed. [Lowering the Bar]
“A California judge has cancelled Tim Langdell’s hold over the Edge trademark, ending a long-running dispute over the name with iOS developer Mobigame, EA and others. …Yesterday, Langdell responded by issuing a letter protesting the decision as ‘defective’.” [Eurogamer.net] We’ve reported several times on Langdell’s efforts to assert broad trademark rights over use of the word “Edge” in videogames and related items.
“…Video game consumption is not correlated with gun violence” [Maggie Koerth-Baker, BoingBoing]
Also: on which same general subject, a helpful reminder that Ralph Nader is still an idiot [Erik Kain, Forbes; Gamespot]
Who to blame after a freak atrocity? For many of those who’ve felt obliged to comment, the question seems rather who not to blame:
- Lack of a national gun registry [cited by the New York Times, though the relevant weapon in Newtown was properly registered and posed no tracing difficulties to authorities; Jacob Sullum]
- Non-prosecution of people who lie on gun applications [cited by NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, though there's no indication that anyone lied on a gun application in the Lanza case; Jacob Sullum again]
- Lack of cops in schools [Eli Lehrer on one of the NRA's bad ideas]
- Violence in videogames [Jacob Sullum on another of the NRA's bad ideas; more, Scott Shackford, Andrew Sullivan]
- Advances for secular and socially liberal causes in the recent U.S. elections [Michael Potemra and Peter Wehner on the comments of James Dobson]
- Congress, for its role in blocking an organized campaign to bankrupt gun makers through tort suits [Slate and, earlier, Erwin Chemerinsky, trying to revive this truly bad idea]
- People who want to reform public education and the organization of teaching [Katherine Mangu-Ward, though the union advocates she cites are claiming something closer to "this proves we're right" than to "school choice causes shootings."]
- In general, those terrible people who disagree with us ["Reading discussions on the web, you might come to believe that we don’t all share the goal of a society where the moral order is preserved, and where our children can be put on the bus to school without a qualm. But we do. We just disagree about how to make it happen." -- Dave Hoffman, Concur Op]
(& welcome Scott Greenfield, Jack Shafer readers)
“A man accused of firebombing three New Jersey synagogues may have been influenced by violent Xbox video games that aggravated his mental issues, his attorney said Tuesday. … [Anthony] Graziano’s attorney, Robert Kalisch, speaking outside court after the hearing Tuesday morning, described Graziano as a young man with mental health issues who had few friends and played violent games on his Xbox.” [MSNBC, Patrick Scott Patterson/Examiner](& Elie Mystal, Above the Law)
A federal judge “found that EA’s right to use the likeness of [former Rutgers quarterback Ryan] Hart was protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution and this right ‘outweighs’ Hart’s right to control the use of his name and likeness.” [GamePro]
A UK game developer spent “tens of millions” successfully resisting a broad patent claim over online multiplayer gaming. [BoingBoing, GamaSutra]
“It is exceedingly unfortunate that the U.S. legal system can force a company with a sole presence in Cambridge, UK to incur a seven-digit expense and waste over a year of management time on a case with absolutely no merit,” [said company CEO Mark Gerhard] in a statement. “This anomaly, which could easily break smaller studios, doesn’t happen in the UK since you can pursue frivolous litigants for the costs of such claims,” he added.