‘Band Hero’ Battle

It’s not all fun and games for video game developer Activision, which has responded to a suit filed by No Doubt over group member avatars in “Band Hero.”

According to court documents, Activision filed a counterclaim asserting the band hasn’t lived up to its end of the deal, breaching its agreement with Activision, and has been “unjustly enriched by its wrongful conduct … including by retaining money paid to the band for services it then refused to provide.”

At issue for No Doubt was the fact that the game, which is an extension of the “Guitar Hero” series, featured a character manipulation setting that gave the avatars the capacity to perform virtually every song included in “Band Hero.”

“Without the band’s knowledge or approval Activision turned the group into virtual karaoke players by having them perform over 60 additional songs by other musical groups,” No Doubt said in a statement after filing suit Nov. 4, the day after the North American release of “Band Hero.”

The game developer’s countersuit, filed in U.S. District Court in California Dec. 3, claims it was never informed that the band wished to limit the use of its avatars during negotiations, according to legal filings obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

“What this case boils down to,” Activision said, “is not a violation of the right of publicity, but rather No Doubt’s failure to request that their grant of rights to Activision be limited to use of their likenesses only in connection with No Doubt songs.

“With sophisticated management and legal representation, extensive contract negotiations and meetings to go over any and all questions about the game, No Doubt had every opportunity to request that the broad grant of rights Activision be restricted. … But No Doubt’s representatives did not timely request that their grant of rights be limited in this way.”

The counterclaim also alleges that it is “publicly known that certain users of ‘Guitar Hero’ videogames are able to ‘unlock’ in-game characters and then can choose to play songs performed by other artists using ‘unlocked’ characters as part of the game-play.”
Activision’s suit seeks damages, attorney fees and costs from the band.

No Doubt isn’t the first act to raise issues with its video game likenesses.

Courtney Love threatened to sue Activision earlier this year after discovering that her late husband Kurt Cobain’s “Guitar Hero 5” avatar was able to play non-Nirvana songs in the game.