‘GTAV’ publisher thinks Lindsay Lohan’s lawsuit is ridiculous
Every once in a while you may come across a lawsuit that sounds ridiculous, but actually has merit in a legal sense. According to Rockstar Games and its publisher Take-Two, Lindsay Lohan’s suit over Grand Theft Auto V is not one of those lawsuits.
Lohan first filed suit against Take-Two earlier this year, stating that the developer and publisher used her likeness in promotions, and in the game itself. Lohan and her attorneys claim that the widespread promo image of a blonde in a bikini is actually her (as well as the image above), and that a mission in the game features a character named “Lacey Jonas,” who is also a thinly veiled parody of Lohan. The character is hounded by paparazzi, references Lohan’s film Mean Girls, and was shown to live in the West Hollywood Hotel as Lohan herself used to.
Take-Two not only called the suit meritless and publicly stated that Lohan’s suit was nothing but a publicity stunt, it also requested that the courts sanction the actress and her attorneys. Before that motion could be heard, Lohan’s attorneys filed a longer, amended complaint with several new arguments.
According to THR, Take-Two is having none of it. The publisher has filed a new motion to dismiss, stating that the new suit “suffers from even greater defects than the first one.”
Lohan apparently loves to sue people. In 2000, she sued E-Trade over a commercial that featured a “milkoholic” baby named Lindsay. That case was eventually settled, but not before her lawyers addressed the fact that there are over 250,000 Lindsays in America. The argument was that Lohan was so incredibly famous that she deserved single-name status, like Madonna and Oprah.
In 2011, Lohan also filed suit against rapper Pitbull for the lyrics “So, I’m tip-toein’, to keep flowin’, I got it locked up, like Lindsay Lohan.” The judged ruled against her, but not before one of her lawyers was caught plagiarizing legal briefs. When the ruling came down, it stated that that Lohan’s name was used in a non-advertising capacity, and so Pitbull was protected.
Part of Lohan’s argument against Take-Two – including the new motions her lawyers just filed – try to sidestep this ruling by claiming that the image of the blonde in the bikini has been used on merchandise, including on the game disc itself, so Lohan is due a lot of money.
There is just one problem with that (well, one major problem): the blonde in question is actually model Shelby Welinder. She was hired by Take-Two to model for promotional materials prior to the game’s release, and Welinder has the invoices to prove it. That isn’t stopping Lohan from claiming the likeness is her.
Rockstar recently countered Lohan’s argument, claiming that the likeness on the disc cannot be considered official merchandise, and even if it were, and if the image was Lohan (which Take-Two is not conceding), it still would still be protected under New York’s publicity rights statute, the same statute that the judge cited in the Pitbull ruling. That also protects the publisher from the claims against the in-game character.
Basically, not only is Take-Two saying the lawsuit is baseless, even if it weren’t, the publisher would be well within its rights.
Take-Two is also pointing out the timing of the lawsuit. Lohan filed suit nearly a full year after the original artwork and the depictions of the “Lacey Jonas” character were released. Lohan’s attorneys countered that the images were modified to fit on the disc, which constitutes a “republication” of her likeness. Take-Two then stated that it was the same art work as it always was, and simply making it smaller didn’t constitute “republication.” And again, that’s assuming the likeness was even her.
It’s hard not to view this as a very silly lawsuit by a very silly person, but the courts can be unpredictable. Plaintiffs in big money lawsuits frequently end up settling, which is often cheaper than a prolonged legal battle. Take-Two, however, has never shied away from litigation.
Backup Cypress Hill singer, Michael “Shagg” Washington, sued the publisher over the character of CJ from Grand Theft Auto III, claiming the game used his likeness. Take-Two refused to settle and instead went to trial, where the judge ruled against Washington, claiming that the “Plaintiff is relying entirely on CJ’s physical appearance in the game, but that appearance is so generic that it necessarily includes hundreds of other black males.
The next step will be for a judge to hear Take-Two’s motion to dismiss.