Thursday, February 08, 2018

Remember that GTA5 Court Case? We Do

Hey gamers! Remember that time when Lindsay Lohan filed a lawsuit against Rockstar and Take-Two Interactive for creating a character in Grand Theft Auto V that, she claims, is a direct copy of her? It was 2014 so if that fell off your radar, it's understandable. The original paperwork was filed in December of 2013, with Lohan's legal team stating that the character Lacey Jonas in the game is like Lohan. Not only in looks, but in mannerisms, clothing, and selfies as well. Yep. Lohan was claiming that she started selfies and GTA ripped her off. The original lawsuit was thrown out of lower court in New York.

However Lohan and 'Mob Wives' reality persona Karen Gravano were able to push the case to the appeals court. Oral arguments began yesterday and a decision is expected to be reached later this year. Gravano is claiming that the character Antonia Bottino in the game is based off of her.

In spite of the fact that these figures are meant to be caricatures of an over-the-top nature and not meant to replicate any one person (in fact, they are meant to replicate today's concept of "celebrity" or "mob boss"), the case is going on and the court of appeals has to listen to it. The "right of publicity"is a war that continues to be waged. The original case was thrown out due to lack of defining proof that Rockstar and Take-Two intentionally created a character to be like Lohan. It is unclear what damages Lohan and Gravano are requesting should the new case rule in their favor.

Jarryd Huntley, a developer and lecturer at Lorain Community College, along with a First Amendment attorney, has filed a "friend of the court" paper to request that the case be dismissed. Should the lawsuit be overturned, this could have lasting ramifications for all forms of media: books, television, movies, musicals, you name it. And not everyone is a multi-billion dollar company that can afford to pay out every individual who may look like a character in a game.

From a rational perspective, if I wanted Lindsay Lohan to be in my game, I would call up her agency and hammer out a deal to put her in the game. Rockstar and Take-Two are no different. They wouldn't be sly about it. They know their products are consumed on a massive scale. They do not benefit from trying to sneak around and use "celebrity" likenesses. It would be more beneficial, and cheaper, for them in the long-run to work directly with the celebrity. They've used Samuel L. Jackson in San Andreas as a voice actor. They bought the rights to use Michael Jackson songs in Vice City. They have the funds. There is no reason for them to make a look-alike of Lohan or Gravano without contacting them first and getting their permission.

When I see the characters in question, I do not think of Lohan or Gravano. I see exaggerations of "celebrities." Hopefully the appeals court sees it the same way.

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

We ask that you please do not include any offensive, sexist, or derogatory language - otherwise your comment will be removed.