No Doubt win first round in Band Hero claim

May 2010


The CMU Daily reports that two efforts by gaming giant Activision to defend themselves against No Doubt’s lawsuit in relation to the ‘Band Hero’ game have been knocked back by the US courts. No Doubt had objected to the way their avatars in the pretend-to-play game could be ‘unlocked’ to play songs other than their own and the band argue that the gaming firm didn’t have the rights to use their likenesses in that way. As with when Courtney Love raised similar objections to the fact Kurt Cobain’s likeness could be made to perform non-Nirvana tracks, Activision denied any wrongdoing, claiming the artists knew what they were signing up to. CMU say that it is thought that the agreement between Activision and its artist partners doesn’t actually specifically cover the use of an artist’s avatar in songs other than their own, so this whole area is a bit greyer than the gaming firm originally implied (and indeed a win for No Doubt could expose Activision to claims from other featured artists). Activision’s response to No Doubt’s lawsuit included a claim that their use of Gwen Stefani’s avatar in tracks other than her own was covered by their First Amendment freedom of speech rights, and that the dispute was a copyright issue, not a right-of-publicity issue, and should therefore be moved to the Federal courts. An LA judge has now refused both of these claims by the gaming company, meaning No Doubt’s action will now proceed as they originally planned. Activision have said they do plan to appeal last week’s rulings. (news blog 19th April 2010)

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