Lindsay Lohan’s lawsuit against Take-Two Interactive (the parent company of Rockstar Games) has been dismissed. The case was over images on official Grand Theft Auto V [official site] marketing material and a character in the game called Lacey Jonas, both of which Lohan claimed were based on herself.
As per the original filing (which I’ve embedded below), Lohan claimed that Rockstar “misappropriated Plaintiff’s image, likeness, voice and persona without consent from the Plaintiff purely for commercial trade purposes and financial gain.”
I’m going back through the filing now and one of the specific claims is that Rockstar announced Lohan’s name “in association with a ‘look-a-like side mission’ which can be found inter alia in gaming blogs”. I’ve been trying to find a source for that as none is given but all I found was this entry on a gaming blog via an IGN blog on the subject. That blog entry doesn’t appear to be quoting anything official when it says that – it’s just part of the author’s prose as far as I can see.
There are also a bunch of other complaints which I kind of enjoyed reading through just because of lines like “The Defendant(s) knowingly and purposefully evoked Plaintiff’s likeness, and appropriated her images as demonstrated in Exhibit A-2 in which the Plaintiff wore her hat with there being multiplicities of photos, photo shoots where the Plaintiff wears the Fedora style hat”. Oh, and “The Plaintiff has been using the peace sign hand gesture for years before and after its use in the video game”.
If you want to see a variety of pictures of Lohan making a peace gesture just scroll down the filing. I’m also really fond of the inclusion of an article from Time’s website by Sarah Miller as supporting evidence which begins “I’m no legal expert” and then offers an opinion on the claim which is wonderfully backhanded in its support of Lohan.
“If demanding is too broad a category to make GTA 5’s work “unequivocally” Lohan-inspired, then there’s the arrogance: Lacey shouts “I’m really famous!” and is generally appalled that the motorcyclist doesn’t know who she is. Only a few actors have been caught pulling the fame card, Lindsay among them. (Lindsay’s mother Dina even asked someone “Do you know who I am?”)”
Anyway, the lawsuit was about violation of rights to privacy – particularly the New York Civil Rights Law sections 50 and 51. Those sections cover using the name, portrait, or picture of a living person without their consent in that state.
Lohan was asking for damages, restraining the use of her image, likeness and voice, and so on.
SIDENOTE: I remember when I saw that red bikini picture on the GTAV marketing and assumed they’d hired Kate Upton for the job. That was actually a pretty popular theory – I don’t think I saw anyone even mention Lohan until she filed the lawsuit – but model Shelby Welinder then came forward as the inspiration for the image and offered up an invoice for her work as proof.
Anyhoodle! The decision on Lohan’s lawsuit was that the cause of action under Civil Rights Law section 51 must fail because Rockstar didn’t use her nam, portrait or picture:
“As to Lohan’s claim that an avatar in the video game is she and that her image is used in various images, defendants also never referred to Lohan by name or used her actual name in the video game, never used Lohan herself as an actor for the video game, and never used a photograph of Lohan”
The decision doesn’t actually ignore the idea of similarities, but it does point out that the claims should still be dismissed because “this video game does not fall under the statutory definitions of ‘advertising’ or ‘trade'”. It goes on to clarify that “works of fiction and satire do not fall within the narrow scope of the statutory phrases advertising’ and trade'”.
With regard to the advertising images, the decision also concludes that the claim should be dismissed. “The images are not of Lohan herself, but merely the avatar in the game that Lohan claims is a depiction of her”.
In case you’re wondering about the other plaintiff mentioned in the decision, Karen Gravano is one of the women featured in the US reality show, Mob Wives. She filed against Take-Two for similar reasons to Lohan, claiming that the game’s character, Andrea Bottino, is based on her. (Rockstar’s rebuttal of the latter’s claim included the developers making the point that Karen Gravano had never been kidnapped or buried alive.)