Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Video Game "Grand Theft Auto" Accused of Image Likeness and Misappropriation

In the world of video game law comes another lawsuit that involves claims of stealing ones likeness. First  was the group No Doubt who won its case against Activision for fraud and breach of contract in the video game Hero. In this case the “Don’t Speak” singers did not agree and authorize Activision to have their images sing karaoke. The two legal parties settled out of court. More recently in video game wars is a whopping  $250 million dollar lawsuit between Micheal Washington, backup singer of Cypress Hill (though the band denied any affiliation) and video game developers Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games. Washington alleges that the developers used his likeness in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, when they made the main character “CJ”.

Washington claimed he met with the game developers in 2003 to talk about his troubled youth and “street life,” and then six years later he saw himself portrayed in the video game.  However if a reasonable observer objectively looked at the two men, they would agree with the court ruling that “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 character CJ appears to be a black male. But that is the only resemblance I could find between Washington and he because CJ wears all sorts of clothing. However, I did find a similar photo and it seems as if Washington depended on that depiction of CJ in court. This depiction is of CJ wearing a white wife-beater, gold chain, and a series of tattoos. Therefore, the court got it right to rule in favor of the video gamers because in Sunny California, a black guy in a wife beater with tattoos is not out of the ordinary.

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