Popular 90s ska-punk-alternative-pop-rock troupe No Doubt are taking Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 publisher Activision to court after this year’s E3 over a 2009 claim that the likenesses of its members were unlawfully used in the musical game Band Hero.
Musicians and singer Gwen Stefani from the band, whose 1996 hit “Don’t Speak” took them to mainstream superstar fame, appear as virtual caricatures in the Guitar Hero spin-off for Xbox 360 and PS3 which allows players to brutally bash through a library of trendy tunes including No Doubt’s chart topping single as well as hit song “Just a Girl”. Permission for these songs was given but apparently not the appearance of the band which would have been required to record performances and actions through motion capture in order to become unlockable characters in the game.
When No Doubt members discovered they were included in Band Hero without consent and the real-life rock band attempted to sue Activision. The games publisher claimed no wrong was done, but some four years later the Superior Court has decided the case should finally be taken before a jury later this year.
No Doubt are quoted as having said they did not have any awareness their likeness would be used in the Band Hero game and that it has made them a “virtual karaoke circus act” as well as suggesting an act of fraud and breach of contract by Activision.
This is not good news for Activision to look forward to after heading into E3, where the publisher should share more details of its autumn line-up including the highly-anticipated Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and The Amazing Spider-Man. We just hope they have Stan Lee’s permission to include him in the game – or forbid they draw a super-powered legal battle with The Man!