Activision sued for copying a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare character model

Activision Blizzard is being sued over allegations that they willfully copied a character to incorporate them in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Calyton Haugen alleges that the Modern Warfare multiplayer character Mara, introduced in Season One of the game’s post-launch content updates, is a reproduction of Cade Janus, a character that featured in his short story November Renaissance. You can see the full filing hosted on TorrentFreak.

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This isn’t just a case of “Huh, I guess the look kind of similar,” though. Hauen asserts that Activision deliberately recreated his work, hiring the same model, Alex Zedra, and then copying the exact look and style of Cade Janus for a photoshoot to bring her likeness into the game.

Haugen’s lawyers wrote, “In addition to hiring the same talent, they also hired the same makeup professional who had prepared the talent for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs. They instructed the makeup professional to prepare the talent exactly as she had done for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs. They instructed her to style the talent’s hair exactly as she had done for Haugen’s Cade Janus Photographs, even using the same hair piece extension.”

Again, that’s not all that’s alleged here, as both the model and makeup artist were bound by non-disclosure agreements in order to, as the complaint puts it, “conceal their planned infringement.”

Haugen explains that he hired Zedra in 2017 to model as Cade Janus so he could pitch his story to movie studios. Photos were then published online via his website and Instagram, and used in a calendar.

Zedra was not simply used for an in-game likeness, but also to appear in promotional material for the game. One of the examples in the filing is particularly damning, though, taking one of Haugen’s photos and running it through image editing tools to change the colour balance, recolour her scarf, add a headset and make other tweaks. It is undoubtedly ripped from Haugen’s phot.

The character Mara was added to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in 2019 and made available as part of the reward track for the Season One battle pass. She was monetised further with a Kawaii Cat skin with a cat-eared helmet and kitten charm for her weapons, costing 2,400 COD point, or around $24.

Source: TorrentFreak

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7 Comments

  1. Yup. Looks pretty rip off to me.

  2. They used the same person so.. its going to look the same innit?

    • Well, obviously, but the accusation is that they hired that model specifically in an attempt to rip off the character’s look and style. The fact that they took one of his photos and edited it for their marketing materials is the real kicker, and the NDAs makes it look like a cover up. We’ll see how the court case goes.

      • So the poor model is never allowed to do anything where she might be accused of looking like herself? And the NDA could well just be a standard thing, not an attempt to cover anything up.

        But that last photo there is clearly the same photo with a headset added and some colours changed. The hair is exactly the same (except where it’s been removed on the left below the headset), even down to the little strand on the right she appears to be eating. And the folds in the scarf are all in exactly the same place. It’s exactly the same photo, just edited.

      • The issue is not that they used the same model.

      • The issue seems to be someone wants some money because Activision copied his Lara Croft copy. And blatantly stole his photo while doing it.

        Perhaps it’ll end up quietly settled out of court and he’ll get some money to spend on a big box of original ideas. And everyone will sign an NDA so we’ll never know what really happened.

      • There is a difference between creating something that’s fairly derivative and cloning something entirely.

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