No Doubt sues Activision over use in Band Hero

Rock group "No Doubt" have filed a law-suit over the band's appearance in Band Hero, Activision's latest spin-off of the Guitar Hero video game franchise. The group contend that the game has transformed them into "a virtual karaoke circus act," singing the songs of other bands.

In the suit filed on Wednesday in Los Angeles Country Superior Court, No Doubt allege that Activision broke the contractually agreed use of the in-game likenesses of band members Gwen Stefani, Tony Kanal, Tom Dumont and Adrian Young.

Band manager, Jim Guerinot said, "The band are bitterly disappointed that their name and likeness was taken and used without their permission. 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."

According to the LA Times, No Doubt's contract with Activision allowed the Santa Monica-based company to use the band's avatars in no more than three of their own songs. The game allows players to place them, as a group or individuals, 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."

It specifically notes that the game allows Stefani's image to sing the Rolling Stones' "Honky Tonk Women." The complaint says, "While No Doubt are avid fans of the Rolling Stones and even have performed in concerts with the Rolling Stones, the Character Manipulation Feature results in an unauthorized performance by the Gwen Stefani avatar in a male voice boasting about having sex with prostitutes."

The complaint also alleges that executives at Activision failed to disclose the character-manipulation feature, refusing to remove or disable it for the No Doubt avatars once the band learned of it. According to the suit, Activision told the band that it would be "too expensive."

The lawsuit asks for an unspecified amount of actual and punitive damages, a temporary restraining order against the game, as well preliminary and permanent injunctions against distribution of the game, including a recall of existing copies.

A spokesman for Activision told the LA Times that they had not seen the complaint and had no comment.

In September, the widow and former bandmates of Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain complained about the use of his likeness in Guitar Hero 5. In that case, Activision said they had received written permission from his widow to use him as a fully playable character, however she Twittered that she "never signed [off] on the avatar."

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