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OFF BEAT: Noriega can continue digital reign of terror in 'Call of Duty'


A Los Angeles County judge ruled this week that corrupt former Panamanian dictator and convicted murderer Manuel Noriega cannot stop video game makers from depicting him as a corrupt, murderous dictator because he is Manuel Noriega.

In a ruling handed down Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge William Fahey agreed to dismiss Mr. Noriega’s lawsuit against Activision Blizzard Inc. over his portrayal in the company’s 2012 video game “Call of Duty: Black Ops II,” citing a California statute restricting civil lawsuits that seek to limit free speech, according to a report.

Mr. Noriega sued Activision in July, claiming that the company had infringed on his publicity rights and damaged his reputation by depicting him as “the culprit of numerous fictional and heinous crimes” including murder, a crime for which he is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence in Panama.

In his ruling, Judge Fahey said Activision’s right to free speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution trumped Mr. Noriega’s publicity rights, and that he had seen no evidence in the game’s content to suggest that his reputation had been harmed, according to Reuters’ report.

“Indeed,” Judge Fahey said, “given the worldwide reporting of his actions in the 1980s and early 1990s, it is hard to imagine that any such evidence exists.”

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