In this day and age, you have to be careful about being sued no matter what to do. And when your line of work implies creating material for the public, the chances of lawsuits increase probably more than tenfold. This is what a gaming company found out the hard way, as Activision sued because Angolan rebels are people too.
As the Call of Duty series has been steadily growing over the past years, it also stared to delve into more modern issues.
In their Call of Duty: Black Ops II entry, Activision, the company responsible for the games, decided that Angola should be involved, or more specifically the conflict between the Angola nationalists (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA.
On the side of the rebels, the main character of the titular game is led into battle by Jonas Savimbi, the rebel leader, as he fights against the Soviet controlled government.
At least in one scene, the rebel leader is depicted wielding a grenade launcher and yelling at his troops to “fight, my brothers!”.
Savimbi was killed in a battle against the government and their Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola party, sometime in 2002.
As a freedom fighter, Savimbi was a very controversial figure. On one side, he fought for the freedom of his compatriots, and despite being the leader of the movement he died on the front lines. On the other hand, the civil war he started and maintained led to the gruesome deaths of over half a million people, while other millions had to relocate.
Now based in France, the remaining Savimbi family consists of three of the rebel leader’s children; and they have a score to settle with Activision and the way they portrayed their father in the video game.
The suing party is asking for €1 million in damages because the company portrayed Savimbi as what they called a barbarian, and as a large halfwit who just wanted to kill everyone.
The counterpoint, led by Activision Blizzard’s lawyers, will be that the company actually portrayed the man as a capable strategist and political leader.
Because of France’s very strict laws on publicity rights and on defamation, the rebel leader’s family actually has a shot at winning the trial.
Although it’s not all surprising that a grieving and offended party claim a lawsuit against a party that inaccurately represented a loved one, the fact that the person is dead will most likely have the lawsuit drag on for quite a while.
Image source: Wikimedia