Necromantic lawyers say George Patton can't appear in video games


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Why on earth would Californians have any say in the matter of using the name of one of our greatest European generals, Georges Pâton (sometimes an anglicised spelling turns up), in a video game? We’re justly proud of our warmonger-heroes and their ghosts are honoured - yes, that’s honoured with a U - to be thus commemorated.

I’m assuming that California still manages to possess, possibly even produce, textbooks and historical scholarship that (for money, more so in the case of textbooks, a lot less so in the case of the scholarship) include historical figures who haven’t been dead long enough to no longer have ‘publicity rights’. Never mind the WWII documentaries, sometime serious, sometimes bleeding into low-budget-war-movie territory, that are a genre unto themselves.

Is this case brought on the theory that all video games are purely exploitative schlock of absolutely zero cultural importance, to be judged only as commodified ‘content’ sludge, and thus governed wholly by laws having commercial considerations; or is the allegation that this game, in particular is exploitative schlock of absolutely zero cultural importance, to be judged only as a matter of commercial value?

Would the same problem crop up if I felt like publishing a ponderous, scholarly, tome, “General George Patton: This being an exhaustive and tedious analysis of tactical, strategic, political, psychological, and sundry other considerations of a notable actor of the WWII western theatre.”?


General Patton might not be dead, he could be deeply meditating.


They should just change the name of the game to Patent. Problem solved.


The general that was formally known as George Patton? No? How about The six shooting, loud mouth, crazy American? No, that’s too loud. General Patient…put that on the short list.

Don’t we already have a precedent on this with the Noriega lawsuit from last year? And he’s actually alive.


So what is the time limit for incorporating historical figures in games? Can we use ancient Rome? Greece? How about Gustav Adolph? Wellington and Bonaparte? Grant and Lee?

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Why doesn’t anybody seem to be concerned about the fact that the zombies now have Patton on their side?


Hollywood necromancers can be pretty effective. They got Fred Astaire to do a vacuum ad ten years after he died.

Why not just add an asterisk?
*this game has not been endorsed by general Patton


No, because Cal. Civ. Code § 3344.1(a)(2) gives the following exemptions:

For purposes of this subdivision, a play, book, magazine, newspaper, musical composition, audiovisual work, radio or television program, single and original work of art, work of political or newsworthy value, or an advertisement or commercial announcement for any of these works, shall not be considered a product, article of merchandise, good, or service if it is fictional or nonfictional entertainment, or a dramatic, literary, or musical work.

One of the issues in the Patton case is whether or not video games count as an “audiovisual work”.

According to Cal. Civ. Code § 3344.1(g) the rights expire after 70 years. Since Patton’s been dead for 69 years his estate filed this suit just under the wire.

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General Patton does what the fuck General Patton wants and he’ll appear in as many goddamned video games as he wants to, lawyers be damned.


You’re suggesting a logical solution in a case where logic isn’t an option.


Ceci n’est pas une Patton

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It takes a court to decide whether a video game is an ‘audiovisual work’? Or, for that matter, a ‘dramatic’ work?

il faut fournir une image

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Because that does not put money into the hands of the estate, the agents, the lawyers, and anyone else who can possibly get their grubby fingers in the pot. This is California, the home of L.A. and Hollyweird. It’s all about the money.