The lead singer of the band Maroon 5 is suing Activision for abusing the ability to use his likeness in the game Band Hero.
A spinoff of Guitar Hero, Band Hero was the publisher’s more accessible music game that was filled more with pop songs than the franchise’s storied history of heavy rock.
As such, Maroon 5 appears in the game. Activision of course got all the necessary approval from the band and even got permission from Adam Levine to use his likeness in the game – that is, he allowed Activision to use a digital version of himself when players rock out to his music in the game.
But his likeness ends up being used in other parts of the game. In fact, players can play as Adam Levine in any song, including songs where the lead singer is a female.
It doesn’t really seem like that big of a distinction, and at first glance it’s confusing why Levine would choose now to sue.
The real motivator for this lawsuit, it appears, is that Levine found out other artists had a separate, specific agreement with Activision for the ‘expanded’ use of their likeness, and paid those artists a higher fee.
So, feeling like he got cheated, Levine decided to file a lawsuit.
He’s suing for fraudulent inducement, violation of common-law right of publicity, breach of contract, and unfair business acts or practices.
Levine would have to prove some sort of damage to fully win this case. That is, he’d need to convince a judge or jury that, because a digital avatar version of himself can be used to sing someone else’s song, that has specifically damaged his reputation.
Activision has not responded to the lawsuit.