An Amsterdam hotel is unhappy with its former inclusion in the latest Call of Duty, and Dutch media reports are considering legal action against developer and publisher Activision Blizzard. Although the Conservatory Hotel appears under the name “Breenbergh” in the game, it is undeniably the same building.
“We have noticed the fact that the Conservatory Hotel is undesirably the scene of the new Call of Duty,” hotel manager Roy Tomassen told de Volksrant. (opens in a new tab). “More generally, we do not support games that appear to encourage the use of violence. The game in no way reflects our core values and we regret our apparent and unwanted involvement.”
de Volksrant reports that the hotel is still considering what steps to take next. It is clear from the wording, however, that the hotel has not ruled out legal action.
The Conservatory stand-in Breenbergh appears in both the single player mode and as a map in multiplayer. A quick look at images of the luxury hotel’s interior and the Call of Duty map confirms that the in-game Breenbergh hotel is based on the real-life Conservatory, an 1800s bank building remodeled in an extremely distinctive glass-and- steel style for use as a five-star hotel by an Italian architect.
The lawsuit may seem sketchy to many, but architecture is copyrightable under both European and American law. As a five-star luxury hotel, it is possible that the owners and manager of the Conservatory want absolute control over the image of their business.
American law has helped Activision in the past on real-world depictions – notably the HMMV used by the American military. (opens in a new tab)-but laws in Europe are much less clear on similar issues. The depiction of a hotel as a setting for a shooting is more debatable legally, and under various fair use doctrines, than the depiction of an iconic military vehicle in a military game.
The closest thing I can remember was the rendering of Manchester Cathedral in Resistance: Fall of Man (opens in a new tab) back in 2006—but that was a much more famous building, represented for historical reasons, in another country. That incident ended with an official apology from Sony to the Church of England, which is frankly a very funny sentence.
We’ll keep an eye out if the hotel takes legal action against Activision. It’s not like their lawyers aren’t busy enough these days.
Thanks for reporting, NL Times (opens in a new tab).