American screenwriter Clayton Haugen sued Activision Blizzard. He stated that the company stole the appearance of his character for the image of Mara, a girl soldier from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
How did it all start?
Haugen came up with the heroine Cade Janus for his story November Renaissance. The events in it take place in the near future, in which the world is ruled by a technology corporation. The girl-fighter Cade, who grew up in exile, must continue her father’s work and uncover the conspiracy of the company.
The screenwriter hoped to film November Renaissance in the future. Therefore, in 2017, he hired a cosplayer Alex Zedra (Alex Zedra), who portrayed Kade, for a photo shoot. Haugen then posted the resulting photos on Instagram and used them in promo calendars for film studios. That’s just the copyright for the pictures he issued only in December 2020 (for the script Haugen got the rights in 2012).
In 2019, Activision released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, where the Mara soldier appeared. The image of this character, according to the screenwriter, was completely borrowed from a photo shoot for Cade.
Alex Zedra as Kade Janus and Mara from Call of DutyClaims to developers
According to Haugen, the main problem of what happened is that the authors of the game also chose cosplayer Alex Zedra as a prototype for Mara. Moreover, the developers did not find the right clothes and weapons for the model. So Zedra had to use the same equipment as during the photo shoot with the character in Haugen’s story.
Activision invited the same make-up artist, who was previously hired by the screenwriter, to their shooting. According to Haugen, the authors of Call of Duty asked the makeup artist to repeat for the model the hairstyle and makeup that were in the photos with the image of Cade.
Haugen is sure that the developers “hung the photographs belonging to him on the walls of their office” and used them as references. And so that no one would find out about it, the company demanded that the makeup artist and the model sign a non-disclosure agreement.
In the lawsuit, the screenwriter also noted that the image of Cade helped Activision earn more than $ 1 billion in sales of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. They say that the publisher put Mara, illegally created on the basis of Haugen’s character, at the center of a successful marketing campaign of the title.
Haugen addressed his claims to four companies: Activision Blizzard publisher, Activision publisher division, Infinity Ward development studio and Major League Gaming esports league. If the court supports the screenwriter, Haugen will receive all the profits earned by the companies on the image of Mary.