No Doubt sues Activision


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No Doubt has sued video game maker Activision for putting words in band members' mouths.

The band on Wednesday sued Activision Publishing Inc. over a feature in the new "Band Hero" game that allows players to control virtual band members and have them sing other artists' songs.

The lawsuit claims a feature allows players to have lead singer Gwen Stefani perform suggestive lyrics from the Rolling Stones' hit "Honky Tonk Women." The suit also notes a virtual version of bassist Tony Kanal can be made to sing his band's hit "Just a Girl," but with Stefani's voice.

The game, an offshoot of Activision's popular "Guitar Hero" series, went on sale Tuesday.

The company, which is based in Santa Monica, Calif., said in a statement that it engaged in extensive negotiations with No Doubt's management and have a valid written agreement for their participation in "Band Hero."

"As a result, Activision believes it is within its legal rights with respect to the use and portrayal of the band members in the game and that this lawsuit is without merit," the statement said. "Activision is exploring its own legal options with respect to No Doubt's obligations under the agreement."

No Doubt's lawsuit states the band objected to the "Character Manipulation Feature" in "Band Hero" that allows players to use No Doubt's likeness to perform other bands' songs, but Activision refused to change the game.

The feature turns the band "into a virtual karaoke circus act," the lawsuit claims.

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The band is seeking unspecified damages and an order barring Activision from using band members' likeness to perform other artists' songs.

In September, the widow and former bandmates of the late Kurt Cobain said they were dismayed that the likeness of the Nirvana frontman could be used to play songs by other artists in "Guitar Hero 5." Activision said they secured the necessary rights from the Cobain estate in a written agreement to use the singer's likeness as a fully playable character.

Taylor Swift and Adam Levine are the other musicians featured in the offshoot of the popular rhythm game franchise for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii and Nintendo DS.

Previous "Guitar Hero" editions have featured the likenesses of Jimi Hendrix, Billy Corgan, Sting, Ozzy Osbourne, Carlos Santana, Johnny Cash and members of Aerosmith.

Are they not reading the contracts they sign, or are they only pissed after fans get mad about it? This is the second time this has come up.

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Is a definition of a fully playable character in the contract?

This might be a legal oversight. I wouldn't want that as a musician either. There's too much shit going on in the music industry without having to worry about brand misuse.

There's also the thing about the Stones. Did they sign off on the likeness of other bands covering their song within the game? This is icky if you ask me.

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What this will end up doing is killing the music video game industry

I think Activision was doing a pretty fine job of that without the lawsuits...

The only explanation I can imagine for No Doubt and the Cobain estate suing Guitar Hero over this is the way Jimi Hendrix was treated in GH:WT. You could only play as Hendrix when you were playing Hendrix songs. Maybe these artists figured they'd be handled the same way?

Of course, GHWT also let you play whichever songs you felt like as Sting, Ozzy, Billy Corgan, Travis Barker, Ted Nugent and Zakk Wylde, so the argument doesn't really work. In the final setlist, your created character plays on a skyscraper with an "all star" band comprised of all of the above. It's really hilarious to see Ozzy singing "La Bamba" or "Hot for Teacher."

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