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No Doubt wins round in Activision lawsuit

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Rock group No Doubt has won the latest round in its lawsuit against video game giant Activision Blizzard Inc. over the company’s use of the group’s music and image in the Band Hero video game.

No Doubt sued Activision after the game was released in November, saying its contract authorized the use of avatars representing each of the four band members in three No Doubt songs, but that Activision made it possible for the avatars to be “unlocked” and used in conjunction with several dozen other songs that came with the game. No Doubt argued that Activision breached their contract, which required prior written approval for any other uses of the band’s music or likenesses.

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On Thursday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kenji Machida issued a tentative ruling rejecting Activision’s effort to invoke freedom-of-speech protections under the 1st Amendment in defense of the broader use of the No Doubt avatars.

Activision had previously moved to shift the case to federal court, framing it as a copyright issue rather than a right-of-publicity issue as argued by No Doubt, a strategy that also was rejected by the court.

Activision has the right to appeal Machida’s ruling.

Updated April 16 at 11:07 a.m.: An activision spokesman says the company does expect to appeal Thursday’s ruling.

-- Randy Lewis


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