“This was an absurd lawsuit from the very beginning and we’re gratified that in the end, a notorious criminal didn’t win,” said Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, who had defended Activision in the case. “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.”
Nice of the mayor to rub it in, but he ain’t wrong. In dismissing the case, the judge explicitly states that the First Amendment rights of Activision outweigh any publicity rights that may or may not be afforded to Noriega. It’s an important distinction to make, since the judge likely could have simply dismissed the entire suit based on Noriega being a foreign national and not subject to the publicity rights law of California (under which he filed the claim). Instead, the dismissal brings free speech in to play, with a particular eye towards public persons.
“What’s astonishing is that Manuel Noriega, a notorious dictator who is in prison for the heinous crimes he committed, is upset about being portrayed as a criminal and enemy of the state in the game Call of Duty. Quite simply, it’s absurd,” Giuliani said in a press release.
Maybe the SJW from #gamergate can take up Manny’s cause.