Activision is no stranger to being sued by high-profile bands. In fact, disagreements between the publisher and No Doubt, a group fronted by singer Gwen Stefani, go all the way back to 2009 when the group voiced its concerns over their implementation in Band Hero; according to the lawsuit, Activision performed outside of their contractual rights by allowing players to use avatars representing individual members of the band for songs other than their own works signed over to the game in the original agreement. A countersuit followed soon after with the company alleging that No Doubt had not done proper research on the Guitar Hero franchise and its use of rock-and-roll icons, a practice that existed for much of the franchise’s run prior to the release of Band Hero.
Speaking to Gamespot, Bert Deixler, No Doubt’s attorney, clarified the grounds on which his clients are accusing Activision and their motives for doing so. Deixler declares the publisher’s usage of a public-knowledge argument to be both “irrelevant” and “false”; even the company’s own executives, he says, have admitted to not fully understanding the process by which such celebrities are used and unlocked in their video games. The band’s representative then goes on to suggest that the agreement between the two sides only covered the use of characters in three songs (all of which were originally performed by No Doubt) and nothing more. One’s ability to separate individual members of the group and add them to others is another area in which Deixler suggests that Activision overstepped the bounds of their contract.
Due to recent victories in the legal struggle by No Doubt, the case is being moved up to a Federal Court. Deixler says that the idea of a settlement is not out of the question, but that he and the band hope their repeated success in the case will lead Activision to “apologize and promise to never mistreat artists in the manner they have mistreated No Doubt and countless others.”
The case between Activision and No Doubt will go before a jury on October 15 at the Los Angeles Superior Court.