The decision of whether or not Activision breached No Doubt’s contract in Band Hero will be made by a jury.
The publisher’s answer to the smash hit game Rock Band drew a lot of new fans into Activision’s back pocket. And on paper it certainly looked like the company had all the rights it needed to use the various artists and songs within the game.
The band No Doubt agreed to let Activision use its likeness in the game, so players were able to unlock virtual avatars that looked like members of the band.
However, the group didn’t like the fact that players were able to use those characters when performing other songs. According to No Doubt, that was not stipulated in the contract.
But according to Activision, it didn’t need to stipulate that. The legal question will be whether or not a reasonable group of people in No Doubt’s position should have known how their likeness would be used.
The idea that No Doubt legitimately assumed its avatar characters would only be able to perform No Doubt songs seems a bit unlikely, but nevertheless the band didn’t like that its members could be used as “a virtual karaoke circus act,” according to the lawsuit.
This lawsuit was first introduced in 2009, and Activision sought to have it thrown out with no further action.
Instead, a Superior Court Judge has ruled that there is legal basis for the suit, and it will now go to court. Video game lawsuits actually making their way into the courtroom are exceedingly rare so we’ll see what happens.