Popular music band No Doubt settled its lawsuit with video game maker Activision over use of the band members' likenesses in the game Band Hero.
The lawsuit had nothing to do with using virtual images of Gwen Stefani and other members of No Doubt to sing Just a Girl or Don't Speak. Instead, the lawsuit centered around the use of No Doubt members to virtually sing hit songs from other bands.
The group claimed that this feature in the game turned them into a "virtual karaoke circus act," reports Rolling Stone. In their lawsuit, the band sued Activision for fraud, violation of publicity rights, and breach of contract.
No Doubt's lawsuit is interesting as almost all lawsuits involving music bands involve copyright violations and unauthorized use of their music. However, in this case, it appears that No Doubt agreed to have their likenesses and music used on the popular video game. The question was just whether their names and likenesses could be extended to the singing of other songs.
Activision may have had a valid claim to use the band members' likenesses without violating any state laws with defenses such as fair use or parity. Depending upon state laws, an argument could be made that the game was simply making a satire or parody through use of a band member's likeness. Similar to how a celebrity impersonator can get away with his act.
That said, Gwen Stefani and other members of the band may also have a valid claim if use of their likeness was used to damage their name or reputation. For example, having Stefani act obscene may be a bit too far.
Unfortunately, because the case settled, we will have no answer as to whether Activision could have legally used the band's likenesses in such a way. The terms of the settlement were not released and the case had been set for trial next week.