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A New York appeals court is putting the brakes on actress Lindsay Lohan’s lawsuit against the makers of Grand Theft Auto V.
The appellate court concluded Thursday that the game is riddled with satire and, hence, Take-Two Interactive Software is shielded by the First Amendment from allegations of misappropriation of likeness.
Lohan claimed that elements of the video game—which features washed out celebrities, criminals, and paparazzi—were too close to her in real life.
Among other things, she alleged that a minor character named Lacey Jonas in the game was a “look-alike” and that the game violated her “privacy rights under New York law.” She also alleged that the game unlawfully exploited her “signature peace sign pose.”
Mob Wives star Karen Gravano, another plaintiff in the case, similarly alleged that the game unlawfully used her likeness with the character Andrea Bottino.
But a New York Court of Appeals ruled their suit was without merit because, if anything, the game is fiction and satire.
Therefore, it doesn’t constitute as “advertising” or “trade.”
Even if we accept plaintiffs’ contentions that the video game depictions are close enough to be considered representations of the respective plaintiffs, plaintiffs’ claims should be dismissed because this video game does not fall under the statutory definitions of “advertising” or “trade” (see Costanza at 255, citing Hampton v Guare , 195 AD2d 366, 366 [1st Dept 1993], lv denied 82 NY2d 659  [stating that “works of fiction and satire do not fall within the narrow scope of the statutory phrases advertising’ and trade'”]; see generally Brown v Entertainment Merchants Assn., 564 US 786, 790  [“(l)ike the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas…” and deserve First Amendment protection]).
This video game’s unique story, characters, dialogue, and environment, combined with the player’s ability to choose how to proceed in the game, render it a work of fiction and satire.
Lohan also complained that the game featured the Hotel Chateau Marmont, a West Hollywood hotel where Lohan once lived and was said to have racked up $46,000 in unpaid bills.
In the game, the hotel features a separate side quest, in which the player must film a washed-up actress named Poppy Mitchell having sex.
Listing image by Take-Two Interactive Software