A legal battle between Lindsay Lohan and Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two Interactive over the alleged use of her likeness in Grand Theft Auto V has been dismissed as reported by Gamasutra.
In December 2013, Lindsay Lohan’s legal team took Take-Two Interactive to court over the alleged use of her likeness in Grand Theft Auto V. Specifically, her lawyers claimed that the NPC Lacey Jonas was based on her. Lacey Jonas appears in a random event as a celebrity who is attempting to escape pursuing paparazzi. You can then pick her up in a vehicle and deliver her safely to her home after a short pursuit while trying to avoid killing any paparazzi as that would bring negative PR to the fictional starlet. (Less altruistic players who are currently playing Trevor also have the option to take her to the Altruist Cult.) We previously reported on this particular lawsuit advancing through the court system in 2016.
Aside from Lacey Jonas, the lawsuit alleged that two loading screen images similarly evoked Lindsay Lohan’s “images, portrait, and persona”. This all relates to a law in New York State that essentially forbids the use of someone’s image or likeness for commercial purposes without their permission. A relevant portion of the law was quoted by New York’s Court of Appeals in their decision [PDF]:
“[a]ny person whose name, portrait, picture or voice is used within this state for advertising purposes or for the purposes of trade without the written consent first obtained as [provided in Civil Rights Law § 50] may maintain an equitable action . . . to prevent and restrain the use thereof; and may also sue and recover damages for any injuries sustained by reason of such use . . . .”
Two key issues were addressed in the decision. Firstly, the court ruled that a digital avatar would qualify as a “portrait” under the relevant statute. This would probably mean that if someone’s likeness were made into a 3D model for a game without their permission, legal action may be possible in the State of New York under this law. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, I haven’t considered being a lawyer since I was 16, and if I were a lawyer I probably wouldn’t be a very good one.)
Unfortunately for Ms. Lohan, the court also ruled that the Lacey Jonas character and two loading screen images were not immediately recognizable as images of her, describing the avatar as “merely [a] generic artistic depiction of a ‘twenty something’ woman without any particular identifying physical characteristics” and the loading screen images as “indistinct, satirical representations of the style, look, and persona of a modern, beach-going young woman.” As a result, the lawsuit against the publishers of Grand Theft Auto V was dismissed.
In other Grand Theft Auto V news, the game is currently on sale over at Steam for 50% off for the next two days or so. If you haven’t played the game just yet, now’s a fine time to pick it up. You might encounter the alleged lookalike for yourself!
Do you think the image and NPC in question looked like Lindsay Lohan? Should people be able to be in control of their likeness when used in commercial works without their permission? Let us know in the comments below!More About This Game