No Doubt sues Band Hero b/c Stefani avatar sings male-voiced songs

In September, the two remaining members of Nirvana issued a statement against the use of departed lead singer Kurt Cobain’s avatar in the game Guitar Hero. There’s a function in the game that lets you “unlock” a character and have it sing any number of songs, including songs of different genres and voiced by different gender singers. Former Nirvana members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl didn’t object to the use of Kurt’s image in the game, they objected to “the character [being] used with any kind of song the player wants.” Novoselic and Grohl don’t have rights to the Cobain estate or any say in how Kurt’s image is used. Kurt’s widow Courtney Love launched a confusing rant against the licensing of Kurt’s image in the game, which she approved, and compared it to committing “necrophilai” [sic] and to “raping me and my family mother in law child.”

The band No Doubt has taken a much more sane route to ensuring that their image isn’t misused by Activision. They’re suing the company for the same issue that Love and Nirvana members were rallying against. In the new Band Hero game the Gwen Stefani avatar can sing songs in a male voice and with material they consider objectionable. They say they didn’t sign off on it at all.

Gwen Stefani is not a man and wants nothing to do with hookers — but according to a new lawsuit, Gwen claims she’s being manipulated into all sorts of manly, unGwen-like behavior for a new “Guitar Hero” video game.

The band No Doubt is suing the makers of a new game called “Band Hero” — claiming gamers were only supposed to be able to use No Doubt’s digital images to sing 3 No Doubt songs.

But in the lawsuit, filed in L.A. County Superior Court, the band claims Activision “transformed No Doubt band members into a virtual karaoke circus act” by having them “sing, dance and perform over sixty songs.”

The band is particularly pissed that Gwen Stefani’s animated image can channel a male voice to sing “Honky Tonk Woman” by the Rolling Stones … a song which contains lyrics about “having sex with prostitutes.”

The band is suing for an injuction prohibiting “the unauthorized use of the No Doubt’s name and likeness” in the game … along with an undetermined amount of damages.

UPDATE: TMZ spoke with a rep from Activision who tells us, “Activision has a written agreement to use No Doubt in Band Hero – an agreement signed by No Doubt after extensive negotiations with its representatives, who collectively have decades of experience in the entertainment industry …

… Activision believes it is within its legal rights with respect to the use and portrayal of the band members in the game and that this lawsuit is without merit.”

[From TMZ]

The stuff about being able to unlock the characters was probably couched in legalese deep in the contract and I bet it wasn’t disclosed properly to the artists and their lawyers. You can understand how they would be upset to see their likeness singing songs from someone else – particularly if they’re in a voice and style that bears no resemblance to reality. It probably makes the game more interesting, though.

Here is a link to a video of what is supposed to be Gwen Stefani and No Doubt in another related game by Activision, Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock. It doesn’t look like her at all. I wasn’t able to find any screenshots of Stefani’s avatar in Band Hero, but here are links to Taylor Swift and Adam Levine’s avatars in the game and it looks just like them.

And here’s a commercial for Band Hero. It looks like a lot of fun.

No Doubt is shown performing in LA on 8/1/09. Credit: Apega/WENN

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15 Responses to “No Doubt sues Band Hero b/c Stefani avatar sings male-voiced songs”

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  1. Newyorking says:

    I want those abs. I just died and went to heaven.

  2. princess pea says:

    I’m so over people complaining about this game. Rich famous people, who maybe should just get over it… it’s a freaking game, folks.

    I guess I DON’T understand why they would be so upset. It’s obvious that they aren’t really real, they’re pretty cartoony. These bands are getting huge exposure, gaining fans from different genres and out of their usual demographic. They’re getting royalties, too. Seriously, stars, STFU.

  3. Firestarter says:

    ITA Princess Pea. Such trivia they all complain about with this game. Hell, it I could make some money from it, they can have me as a Tranny hooker, singing like Billy Ray Cyrus, and I will gladly cash the checks.

  4. miranda says:

    funny she’s complaining about singing in a man’s voice when her stomach makes her look like a dude. there’s *toned* and then there’s freakishly overdeveloped.

  5. Icecat says:

    So if a man is playing the game and using Gwen’s avatar is she going to sue him for singing her song in a males voice??

    Just saying…

    Christ, loosen your panties..It’s just a game.

  6. Iggles says:

    Miranda – I disagree. I would love to have her abs! I’m working on getting a flat stomach. It’s hard work!

  7. snowball says:

    One of the other bandmates (Tony?) is used singing in a woman’s voice.

    I imagine they’re cranked because they spend a lot of time crafting their image and being known for a certain way of performing (especially Gwen) and this dumb video game has them doing things that affect their image.

    I’d sue too, once I made sure there weren’t loopholes in that agreement they signed that let Activision do this.

    Ah, to have abs like that.

  8. Xx says:

    I dont get it. Its a silly video game, not a “serious” artistic pursuit. What is wrong with these celebs. Get over yourselves and also, invest some of the royalties for a sense of humor. You can afford it.

  9. princess pea says:

    @ snowball – did they not realize what the game IS, do you think? Why’d they (any of them, for that matter) say yes in the first place? If their art and image is so precious to them, they have no business being in the game at all.

    I especially like how snobby this all is. Courtney and Nirvana complaining that Kurt may have to sing *gasp* Bon Jovi, No Doubt whining that Gwen might sing *shudder* The Rolling Stones. It’s so rude and petty.

  10. Sally says:

    That’s not a Gwen Stefani avatar in that video link. She’s just a regular avatar that appears in different songs in Guitar Hero: Legends of Rock. For example, when you play “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benetar, she’s the singer.

  11. LuLu says:

    “The stuff about being able to unlock the characters was probably couched in legalese deep in the contract and I bet it wasn’t disclosed properly to the artists and their lawyers.”

    You have got to be kidding me. I work for 5 lawyers at a Fortune 500 company who regularly negotiate billion dollar deals. They write draft after draft after draft and rip those agreements to shreds before they allow sign off on the final version.

    It sounds like No Doubt collectively and as individuals need to fire their legal representation and hire competent lawyers.

  12. LuLu says:

    And BTW, Dude looks like a lady. so it is fitting.

  13. Trillion says:

    I’d sue too. If I were a famous singer and, unbeknownst to me, my image was being used to do things I didn’t agree to allow, I’d hit ’em the only place it hurts: The bank. And the “snobby” thing? Makes total sense.

  14. Codzilla says:

    The irony here is that “Honky Tonk Woman” is a better song than anything Gwen and No Doubt have ever recorded (or ever will record).

  15. Lisa says:

    Hum. I love Gwen and all, and I totally understand the viewpoint, but I totally took No Doubt’s “Excuse Me Mr” to be a song about soliciting sex for money. Maybe that was my misunderstanding…