NEW: Noriega's attorney says he's reviewing the court order, conferring over next steps
A judge says the First Amendment protects the creators of "Call of Duty" games
Ruling: "Noriega fails to provide any evidence of harm to his reputation"
Manuel Noriega had argued he was entitled to part of the profits since his likeness was used
A California judge has dismissed former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega’s lawsuit against the creators of the “Call of Duty” video game franchise.
“This court concludes that Noriega’s right of publicity is outweighed by defendants’ First Amendment right to free expression,” Judge William H. Fahey of the Los Angeles Superior Court said in an order Monday.
Noriega – who’s serving a prison sentence in Panama after being convicted of drug trafficking, money laundering and killing political opponents – had argued that the 2012 video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” damaged his reputation.
Creators of the video game called the lawsuit “frivolous” and “absurd.” They filed a motion to dismiss it, arguing that Noriega’s portrayal in the game is protected by the Constitution.
“This ruling is an important victory and we thank the court for protecting free speech,” said former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, attorney for video game creator Activision Blizzard Inc.
“This was an absurd lawsuit from the very beginning and we’re gratified that in the end, a notorious criminal didn’t win,” Giuliani said in a statement Tuesday. “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.”
Noriega, 80, filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court in July, arguing that his portrayal “as a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state” in the video game harmed his reputation. Since the company used his image and name, the lawsuit said Noriega was entitled to a share of the profits from the video game.