Activision Accused Of Stealing Call Of Duty Character

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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

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.

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As Torrentfreak reports, 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, when 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.
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
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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.

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

DISCUSSION

I don’t want to be the one making excuses on behalf of a massive corporation for a game I don’t even play, but....

Both character designs are incredibly bland and generic. Bad on Activision if they did steal the design, but also pick a more unique design next time if they did.