Activision Accused Of Stealing Call Of Duty Character

Activision Accused Of Stealing Call Of Duty Character
L: a photo from Haugen's original pitch, R: a promotional image for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Image: CLAYTON HAUGEN vs ACTIVISION, INFINITY WARD & MAJOR LEAGUE GAMING)
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The creator of a character called “Cade Janus”, developed as part of a film pitch, is taking Activision, Infinity Ward and Major League Gaming to court, accusing them of going behind his back and stealing the character for use in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

As Torrentfreak report, Clayton Haugen claims that he created the character years ago, and went so far as to work with streamer Alex Zedra to bring Janus to life.

Haugen’s suit alleges that, while trying to draw attention to his work by publishing it on social media, Activision and some partners became aware of the character and actively worked to get her into the game, changing her name to “Mara” and going so far as to (this is directly from the filing):

a. Used Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs as guides for how to frame their own imaging and photographs

b. Hired the same talent who had posed for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs

c. Asked the talent to ask Haugen for the same clothing and gear that she wore when he created the Cade Janus Photographs

d. Hired the same makeup professional who prepared the talent for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs

e. Directed her to do the talent’s makeup exactly as she had for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs

f. Directed her to style the talent’s hair exactly as she had for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs, even using the same hair piece extension, and then

g. Photographed and three-dimensionally scanned the talent using Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs as a guide.

Haugen’s suit is also full of photographs comparing his original photoshoot with Activision’s promotional material for Call of Duty featuring “Mara”

L: an image from Haugen's original photoshoot, R: a 2019 photo taken for Call of Duty, featuring the same actor. (Image: CLAYTON HAUGEN vs ACTIVISION, INFINITY WARD & MAJOR LEAGUE GAMING) L: an image from Haugen's original photoshoot, R: a 2019 photo taken for Call of Duty, featuring the same actor. (Image: CLAYTON HAUGEN vs ACTIVISION, INFINITY WARD & MAJOR LEAGUE GAMING)

What elevates this from a “they stole my art” claim to a copyright infringement case asking for damages is that Haugen says he registered copyrights for his story in 2012-13, and his photographs in 2020.

He’s looking to “recover all monetary remedies from Defendants’ infringement, including all of their profits attributable to their infringements”, along with recouping his costs and legal fees.

Comments

    • I thought it was gonna be one of those hard to argue situations but it’s almost as if Activision was trying to make the connection as clear and obvious as possible.

      • Yep. I was all ready to giggle at the moron trying to file a lawsuit because he drew a girl with a gun in elementary school and COD has a girl with a gun. But sheesh, that really is some stupid arse shit right there. Still not sure that he’s going to win the case though, or get much cash our of it even if he does.

  • I wish activision would steal someone elses game engine and visual assets next time, ould make for a better game than the 2010s era trashfire that is cold war

  • It’s a difficult one. The filing makes it clear that Activision was aware of Haugen’s work when working on the game. And while he’s right to feel hard done by, it isn’t clear this goes as far as copyright infringement.

    For example, it would be unfair to the model to claim “all photos of Alex Zedra dressed as a soldier” are derivative of his photos. And things like the face and sleeve tattoo are clearly not his work.

    If Activision had also swiped aspects of his screenplay for their game he’d have a much more solid case. But he doesn’t seem to be arguing that in the filing.

    • The catch here is they contracted her likeness for that specific image set for the purpose of a video character… for Activision to go out of there way to hire the same person for the exact same job is actively and knowingly breach of contract and being accessory to that breach of contract to replicate images that are intellectual property of a game that was released.

      Usually when an actor or model sells their image they have terms that say they can’t be that “character/image” for another employer without consent.

      • If that was the case, surely the case would have been filed against the model and stylist? Activision never had a contract with Haugen.

        I don’t see anything in the story to indicate Haugen was developing a game. It says he organised the photo shoot to produce material to help people visualise the film script he had written. If someone bought his script, there’s no reason to believe they would also hire the model as an actor (it’s a different skill set, after all). So it’s not at all clear that Haugen would have tried to license her appearance.

  • Might be a reading comprehension thing on my part, but the end of the article makes it sound like hes only just applied for copy write on his Photos in the last year?

    “Haugen says he registered copyrights for his story in 2012-13, and his photographs in 2020”

    While it doesn’t specify a month that he applied for the copy write, unless it was before April 2020 (the month Mara went live on COD – ignoring the time she would have been in development before that) doesn’t that mean that Activision’s version of Mara predates his copy write? Unless hes claiming the description of the character from his story has been infringed?

    • That’s what I was thinking as well. Sounds like he realised after it came out and thought he better copyright them so he can do this

    • He registered his copyright in 2020, but the photos were taken in 2017. It’s not necessary for a work to be registered for it to receive copyright protection, but it can help in legal disputes as a way to assert ownership.

      The court filing also alleges that Activision included one of the photos from this shoot in a “Project Odyssey” design document, so there is evidence that they knew of the photos before adding the character to the game.

  • That’s what you get Activision for sticking your nose into other people’s business by stealing a Call of Duty character.
    Now where the fuck is my announcement for Crash Bandicoot 4 It’s About Time coming to the Nintendo Switch?
    I demand some answers from both you guys at Activision Toys For Bob and Beenox and I want some answers immediately.
    Where the fuck is my announcement for Crash Bandicoot 4 It’s About Time coming to the Nintendo Switch?

  • “Why would they bother” is the part of this that makes me wonder about this. What did they gain from taking an existing concept of a generic soldier lady rather than using a new concept for a generic soldier lady?

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