What do Angolan rebels, ISIS widows, Metallica and a photographer have in common?

This week's crazy sue-ball roundup

It's an unfair stereotype that America is the home of crazy lawsuits.

Which is why we proudly present to you four lawsuits – all of which have emerged in the past few days – that put the stereotype proudly back on the map.

You remember that lovely Angolan rebel chief Jonas Savimbi? You know, the one who was a Marxist and Maoist before turning to Washington and using CIA-provided weaponry to try to overthrow the Angolan government back in the 80s?

No? He met Reagan and then Bush at the White House but failed to win the Angolan presidency, returned to guerrilla warfare and sold millions of dollars in blood diamonds to fund his bloody campaign, before finally being murdered by government troops in 2002?

Now you remember. Well, his family is suing games manufacturer Activision because they didn't like the way he was depicted in Call of Duty: Black Ops II. They want €1m ($1.1m) in damages.

In the game, Savimbi is a "big halfwit who wants to kill everybody" says the lawyer behind the suit, whereas in reality he was a "political leader and strategist."

This is not the first time that Savimbi has seemed like two people: while he was alive and Washington was funding his extremely bloody civil war, he was presented as an intellectual and a warrior-poet. That was something that people closer to the ground tended to dispute with some vigor.

ISIL you in court

Talking of suing computer companies for their representations of murder on the other side of the world: Tamara Fields is suing Twitter because of its role in assisting Islamic State.

Mrs Fields lost her husband in an attack in Jordan that Islamic State claimed responsibility for back in November. She claims in her lawsuit that Twitter is in part responsible because it has enabled the terrorist organization to thrive.

"Without Twitter, the explosive growth of ISIS over the last few years into the most-feared terrorist group in the world would not have been possible," the suit says.

It's not clear how much money she wants but she does want triple damages because Twitter violated the Anti-Terrorism Act by providing "material support" in the form of 140-character messages.


Twitter is also at the end of another lawsuit – this time photographer Jennifer Reilly, who says that the social media company has failed to remove tweets that infringe her copyright.

She wants a permanent injunction and compensation because Twitter is hosting or linking to one of her works without permission. She sent 28 takedown notices covering 56 instances in November, and Twitter has only acted in six of them. Hence the sue-ball.

Cover me

And finally Metallica, notoriously grumpy rock gods.

Having made a name for themselves for aggressively protecting their intellectual property, they took things a little further and served their own cover band at one of their shows with a 41-page cease and desist letter.

The Canadian group, Sandman, was a little surprised and disheartened to find out that their heroes were threatening to sue them for playing their music. And to discover that Metallica's lawyers routinely scour YouTube and the broader internet looking for people covering their songs so they can threaten them.

There was something about serving a cover band at their own gig that did not sit well with fans, however, and following a pretty loud 24 hours of social media yelling, the band stepped up and claimed that it was not them but an "overzealous attorney" who was responsible for the legal threat.

They even put out a message of support: "Sandman should file the letter in the trash. Keep doing what you're doing ... we totally support you! And in the meantime, our attorney can be found at SFO catching a flight to go permanently ice fishing in Alaska."

See, you don't always have to use your lawyers to threaten people and companies. Sometimes you can threaten your own lawyers. ®

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