You play, they plea
Well that was unexpected. Earlier this year, money-launderer, drug-trafficker, racketeer and former dictator of Panama Manuel Noriega emerged from obscurity to file a lawsuit against Activision Games. Noriega alleges that the company used his likeness without permission, as an enemy in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
With this bizarre case now in the public eye, I got to wondering--how many other celebrities have brought legal action against oblivious, unsuspecting, or secretly sneaky game publishers? Well, I looked, and the results are too hilarious not to share. Here we have seven celebrity lawsuits brought against video game companies, and why theyre worth raising a brow over. While they might not be as surprising as a despot suing for copyright infringement, some of them get pretty darn close
Lindsay Lohan sues Rockstar over her likeness supposedly appearing in GTA 5
Let's start with one that's still pretty fresh. Earlier this month, former child star and current sad story Lindsay Lohan announced she is suing Rockstar parent company 2K for allegedly using her likeness without permission for GTA 5. Specifically, she claims that she was the inspiration for minor character Lacey Jonas, an eccentric, drug-addicted minor celebrity that the protagonists protect from paparazzi in a side mission. Lohan is suing for undisclosed damages, claiming that Rockstar blatantly copied her overall image to make the character.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen sue Acclaim over back royalties
In 2004, the writing was on the wall for now-defunct Acclaim Games, which suffered from poor sales that left it unable to even pay its employees. You can be sure as hell it wasn't paying its business partners either, and it had two of the most terrifying examples in all the industry: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. In April 2004, the twins sued Acclaim for $178,000 in back royalties, owed for lackluster mobile titles bearing the Olsen name. They also accused the company of running the MK&A brand into the ground." Acclaim shut down in September of that year, and whether the twins got their money remains undisclosed.
The Romantics and No Doubt sue Activision for misusing their images
In the last seven years, Activision has been sued by two different musical acts that have appeared in its plastic instrument Hero games: first by The Romantics in 2007 and then by No Doubt in 2012. For The Romantics, it was a song issue: while Activision had gotten permission to create a cover of the bands song What I Like About You for Guitar Hero, they claimed that the result was so much like the original that it didnt qualify under their agreement. The members of No Doubt, meanwhile, were outraged that avatars based on them could be unlocked and used to play other artists' songs. Jeez, talk about splitting hair bands.
Football and basketball athletes sue EA over likeness in NCAA Basketball and NCAA Football
EA is no stranger to litigation from behind either podium, so taking on a small army of athletes in a court of law is probably less noteworthy than Taco Tuesday for the company. Over the last five years, EA has been the target of several high-profile lawsuits from football and basketball players featured in its NCAA series, all college players who claim they didn't give EA permission to use their likeness. One such case concluded last May, with the judge ruling in the players' favor and ordering EA to pay a $40 million settlement. What, scandal in college sports? Madness!
Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat creators sue Time Warner and 5th Cell over Scribblenauts
Everyone knows that cats on the internet aren't to be taken lightly. Dey srs bizniz lol 0k? However, the folks over at Time Warner and 5th Cell did not heed this warning, and used two famous felines--Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat--in their action puzzler Scribblenauts. Now these maligned mousers will have their day in court, with a suit launched in 2013 by their respective copyright holders, Charles Schmidt and Christopher Orlando Torres. As of now Schmidt seems to have the stronger case, as the copyright for Nyan-Cat was already in place when Scribblenauts launched. The same cant be said or Keyboard Cat, so its uncertain how thatll pan out. Either way, it might make Time Warner and 5th Cell think twice before taking something without PURRmission.
Tattoo artist Christopher Escobedo sues THQ over artwork in UFC Undisputed
So apparently it's possible for graphics to be just too damn awesome, at least if you ask tattoo artist Christopher Escobedo. He sued THQ back in 2012, alleging that the recreation of UFC fighter Carlos Condit's tattoo (which Escobedo designed) in UFC Unleashed 2010 was so spot-on that it violated his copyright. Escobedo might have a hard time making his case though, since the game was released in 2010, and he didn't register a copyright on the design until two years later. Of course, THQ was also famously shuttered in January 2013, so if his chances were bad before
Magician Uri Geller sues Nintendo over likeness in Pokemon
Famous illusionist and TV personality Uri Geller makes a living off bending spoons and playing mind games with tourists, and he takes his work seriously. So seriously that he filed a lawsuit against Nintendo in 2000 for allegedly using his likeness in one of its character designs--that of the Pokmon Kadabra. Geller claimed the creature's Japanese name (Yungerer) is clearly a reference to his own, as is the bent spoon it carries. He also alleged that the star on the Pokemon's head and the bolts on its chest reference Nazis, which he took offense to. Though the case was ultimately dismissed, Geller still wanted everyone to know that he had "nothing whatsoever to do with these violent characters." Phew, good. That puts my heart at ease.
There we have it, seven hilarious celebrity lawsuits brought against video game companies. Who's in the right here? Do you think the Olsens can endure losing 0.06% of their net worth? At what level do you think Uri Geller learns Psybeam? Tell me in the comments below, and add to the tabloid fodder.
What to keep following the case? Check out these thoughts on the suit against Battlefield 4 and Lawsuits that altered the course of gaming history.