An Amsterdam hotel is displeased with its ersatz inclusion in the latest Call of Duty, and Dutch media reports it’s considering legal action against developer and publisher Activision Blizzard. Though the Conservatorium Hotel appears under the name “Breenbergh” in-game, it’s undeniably the same building.
“We have taken note of the fact that the Conservatorium Hotel is undesirably the scene of the new Call of Duty,” the hotel’s manager Roy Tomassen told de Volksrant. “More generally, we don’t support games that seem 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’s clear from the phrasing, however, that the hotel has not ruled out legal action.
The Conservatorium stand-in Breenbergh appears in both the singleplayer mode and as a map in multiplayer. A quick look at images of the luxury hotel’s interior and the Call of Duty map confirm that the Breenbergh hotel in-game is based on the real life Conservatorium, a bank building from the 1800s redesigned in an extremely distinctive glass-and-steel style for use as a five-star hotel by an Italian architect.
The lawsuit may seem flippant to many, but architecture is copyrightable under both European and American law. As a five-star luxury hotel, it’s possible that the owners and manager of the Conservatorium desire absolute control over their business’ depiction.
American law has sided with Activision in the past over depictions of the real world—notably the HMMV used by the American military—but laws in Europe are far less clear-cut on similar issues. The depiction of a hotel as setting for a shooting match 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 depiction of Manchester Cathedral in Resistance: Fall of Man back in 2006—but that was a far 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 our eye out in case the hotel takes legal action against Activision. It’s not like their lawyers aren’t busy enough these days.
Thanks for reporting, NL Times.