While Taylor Swift may be happy to be a part of the new video game title Band Hero, I have it on pretty good authority that the members of No Doubt are NOT happy with the game. It turns out that No Doubt is pretty pissed that the game title allegedly misused their likeness against their wishes by not even asking how their likeness would be used in the game … as a result, No Doubt is suing Activision, the company that makes the game:
Rock band No Doubt has filed a real-world lawsuit over its virtual role in the just-released Band Hero edition of the Guitar Hero video game series, claiming that the game has “transformed No Doubt band members into a virtual karaoke circus act,” singing dozens of songs the group neither wrote, popularized nor approved for use in the game. In a suit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court, the band alleges that Santa Monica-based Activision, the maker of the game, has far exceeded the contractually approved use of likenesses, or avatars, of band members Gwen Stefani, Tony Kanal, Tom Dumont and Adrian Young. An Activision spokesman said the company had not seen the complaint yet and therefore had no comment. “The band [members] are bitterly disappointed that their name and likeness was taken and used without their permission,” manager Jim Guerinot said Wednesday. “They agreed to play three No Doubt songs as a band…Activision then went and put them in 62 other songs and broke the band up [and] never even asked.” The suit also charges that the game allows users to manipulate their characters to sing songs popularized by other pop music acts. No Doubt’s contract with Activision allowed the company to use the band’s music and likenesses in no more than three of the band’s own songs, the suit states. The game, which was released Tuesday, puts the group members’ images, collectively and individually, into more than 60 songs, “many of which include lyrics, contained in iconic songs, which are not appropriate for No Doubt and have not been and would not have been chosen by No Doubt for recordings or public performances.” Specifically, the suit notes that through the game’s Character Manipulation Feature, Stefani’s image can be induced to sing the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women.” “While No Doubt are avid fans of the Rolling Stones and even have performed in concerts with the Rolling Stones,” the complaint states, “the Character Manipulation Feature results in an unauthorized performance by the Gwen Stefani avatar in a male voice boasting about having sex with prostitutes.” It also states that bassist Kanal’s likeness can be manipulated to sing, in a female voice, one of No Doubt’s signature hits, “Just a Girl.” “Activision has deceived and confused the public into believing that No Doubt authorized the use of its name and likeness for the Character Manipulation Feature of Band Hero and that No Doubt approves and endorses the appearance of its members individually performing songs that are wholly inappropriate and out of character for No Doubt,” according to the complaint. The suit states that Activision executives withheld disclosure of the character manipulation feature, and refused the band’s request to remove or disable it in conjunction with the No Doubt avatars after the band learned how they were being used. The complaint says Activision officials told the band that doing so would be “too expensive.” “Perhaps most disappointing is when Activision was made aware of the problem, rather than make a fix they admit was technically feasible, they made a business decision that both the time and money required to do the right thing were too much,” Guerinot said. “I guess they are developing the next level of the game: corporate Rock Hero.” The suit asks for unspecified actual and punitive damages, a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction against distribution of the game and for Activision to recall existing copies.
Damn … if the band’s allegations are to be believed it is pretty crappy that the company would just run wild with No Doubt’s likenesses like that. It’s one thing to have the band perform other songs but quite another to break up the band when they are very adamant about staying a single unit. I find it very hard to believe that Activision will be able to recall all the copies that have been sold thus far … my guess is that if they want this lawsuit to go away, they’re gonna hafta pay up. In the meantime, you might want to run out and buy Band Hero while you still can … depending on how this lawsuit turns out, the game might be in high demand … or may disappear altogether.