Update: Jury Will Hear No Doubt’s Claims Against Activision

We have an update on No Doubt’s lawsuit against video game company Activision regarding their appearance in the ”Band Hero” game;as fans may remember,back in November 2009,the band sued Activision,alleging that they did not agree to allow the video game developer to let players use their virtual likenesses to perform other songs available on the game(one song specificially mentioned in the suit was ”Honky Tonk Woman” by The Rolling Stones.) Now The Associated Press is reporting that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled today that a jury should be allowed to consider several of the band’s claims, including fraud, violation of publicity rights and breach of contract,rejecting Activsion’s attempt to dismiss the case. We will continue to keep you updated on any further developments.

LOS ANGELES — A judge has rejected an effort by Activision Publishing Inc. to dismiss key claims by the band No Doubt that the gaming giant misused the band’s likeness in the video game “Band Hero.”

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ramona See ruled Tuesday that a jury should consider several of the band’s claims, including fraud, violation of publicity rights and breach of contract.

No Doubt sued the gaming company in November 2009, claiming Activision never told the band’s members that their avatars could be used to sing other musicians’ songs. The band’s lawsuit cited instances in which lead singer Gwen Stefani could be used to perform suggestive lyrics from the Rolling Stones’ hit “Honky Tonk Women.”

Jeffery McFarland, an attorney for Activision, said the company had a strong defense and looked forward to a trial.

EDIT: No Doubt’s attorney,Bert Deixler,gave a quote to E! News,saying that the band looks forward to the jury hearing about Activision’s treatment of them;the trial is set to begin sometime later this year. For anyone interested,the original court document can be read here.

In her decision today, L.A. Superior Court Judge Ramona See denied the Santa Monica, Calif.-based company’s petition to toss the suit, effectively sending it to trial later this year.

No Doubt sued the game maker in 2009, accusing Activision of allowing players to manipulate the quartet’s individual avatars in ways they would never have acted in real life, thus violating their publicity rights and, according to the suit, turning them into a “virtual karaoke circus act.”

Such manipulations include “unlocking” mechanisms that gave gamers the ability to have Stefani’s CGI alter ego sing in a male voice and also allowed her male bandmates to sing in female voices—it also enabled the virtual No Doubt to perform solo and cover hit songs by other artists that the foursome would normally never have chosen, such as Gwen crooning the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman.”

“Now that the judge removed the last procedural hurdle Activision erected, No Doubt looks forward to a Los Angeles jury hearing how Activision treated the band,” No Doubt’s attorney, Bert Deixler, told E! News.

An Activision rep said the ruling wasn’t entirely unexpected noting that “it simply means that there are disputed facts and we look forward to trying the case in the courtroom.”

UPDATE: The OC Register has posted more quotes from No Doubt’s attorney,Bert Deixler,on the case and is reporting that the band will appear in court to testify when the case goes to trial later this year-we wish the band the very best.

A Superior Court judge’s ruling will allow a lawsuit filed by the band No Doubt against a video game publisher to proceed to a jury trial, set to begin in October.

No Doubt filed a fraud/breach of contract law suit against the video game maker, Activision, in 2009 over the use of the band’s likenesses in the popular game Band Hero. In the game, players perform songs by popular bands – playing as band members.

In this video game image released by Activision, a scene is shown from the game, “Band Hero,” is shown. A Los Angeles judge ruled Tuesday, that the band No Doubt can argue to a jury that gaming giant Activision misused their images in the game “Band Hero” and breached a contract and may have committed fraud by failing to tell that players could use their characters to sing other artists’ songs.




Players can play three songs by the Grammy Award-winning band, which has roots in Anaheim: “Just a Girl,” “Don’t Speak” and “Excuse Me Mr.”

The band’s attorney, Bert Deixler, said No Doubt members were unaware game players could portray a No Doubt band member and perform non-No Doubt songs.

“You could have (band member) Tony Kanal singing “Just a Girl” in Gwen Stefani’s voice,” Deixler said. “Or you could have Gwen singing ‘Kung Fu Fighting’ with those horrible racially insensitive lyrics.”

(Carl Douglas recorded that song.)

When the band discovered the variations, Deixler said it asked Activision to make changes.

“We know that there’s a way to put in a line of code to lock it,” he said. “They made an internal business decision to do it anyway. So we sued them.”

On Tuesday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ramona See rejected a motion by Activision to throw out the entire case, claiming the lawsuit violated the company’s right to free speech through creative expression.

Deixler said the key point is not expression – but that Activision violated the terms of its contract with the band.

“It makes us looks like goons, and it’s harmful to our brand,” Deixler said.

Band members will attend the jury trial and testify. Deixler said No Doubt is asking for sales of the game to be stopped, as well as unspecified monetary recompensation.

“We’re working on our monetary demand, but it’s in the neighborhood of $10 million,” the lawyer said. “Activision paid $500,000 for three songs. The avatars are able to perform in 63 other songs.”

A lawyer for Activision did not return messages asking for comment.

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