$250 million suit for likeness in GTA: San Andreas fails

All of Grand Theft Auto's characters are fictional, though some are clearly more based on reality than others. Model and Cypress Hill backup singer Michael "Shagg" Washington was leaning on that fact when he sued Rockstar Games for $250 million in 2010, alleging San Andreas protagonist CJ drew heavily from his life's story and physical appearance without compensation.

The Hollywood Reporter says a California appeals court Wednesday backed up a prior decision that Washington couldn't prove CJ's creation was not covered by publisher Take-Two's transformative use defense. That is, the argument that the First Amendment permits existing materials to be used free and clear if they are altered enough for a new purpose.

Washington was not without ammunition in the case--Rockstar developers did in fact interview him about his history as former gang member in 2003, and he even appeared in San Andreas' credits as talent. But the appeals court wasn't having it, according to its unpublished written decision.

"Washington has presented no evidence demonstrating that the plot or characters of GTA: San Andreas have any relevance to his life or his purported fame."


  • SentientSquidMachine - November 3, 2012 9:16 a.m., he may have a point, but there was no way he was winning anything in court. Hey R* put me in a game - I won't sue - I swear. That would in fact be one of the coolest things ever.
  • nintendo365 - November 2, 2012 8:40 p.m.

    I could see his reasoning in the matter, but if they did base an entire games protagonist and story around his life then it wouldnt be released the next year. GTA games are known for a lengthy dev time and I dot think they can hellspawn a brand new GTA in less than a year. But in his defense, he was included in the credits, and interviewed about his life- so R* should admit to at least using his life as a reference point for the game. But I remember seeing that they interviewed a few other West Coast rappers and stars like Ice-T and Fazion Love too, even though Fazion did the voice for Sweet...
  • mbavalo - November 2, 2012 2:12 p.m.

    not surprised... the number of American's that will sue anyone for anything.. next thing we will hear is that apple will be suing Microsoft for making a tablet.. why? cos it's "like" the ipad
  • SentientSquidMachine - November 3, 2012 9:10 a.m. know they have been doing that right?
  • mbavalo - November 5, 2012 10:47 a.m.

    No way! I don't want to live in this world anymore :(
  • KA87 - November 2, 2012 2:05 p.m.

    I guess that my neighbor should sue Bethseda then because the trolls in Skyrim look and act just like him.
  • D0CCON - November 2, 2012 1 p.m.

    I could play the racist card and say that even African Americans think they all look alike.
  • Redeater - November 2, 2012 1:14 p.m.

    Well here's hoping his Cole train lawsuit pays off.
  • nintendo365 - November 2, 2012 8:33 p.m.

    And his Zasalamel lawsuit.
  • SentientSquidMachine - November 3, 2012 9:12 a.m.

    I will respectfully disagree, and leave it at that.
  • shawksta - November 2, 2012 12:35 p.m.

    This just in, some random hooligan is suing some gaming company for blah blah blah in a game/system that's 10,0000 years old
  • Sinosaur - November 2, 2012 11:56 a.m.

    He should have brought in the pictures of that time he used an alien technology jet pack that he stole from Area 51 to blow up things in Las Vegas.
  • Redeater - November 2, 2012 11:22 a.m.

    It's frivolous lawsuits like this one that just disgust me. Sure they didn't have to pay anything but I can only imagine the ridiculous lawyer fees that Rockstar had to foot just to get this thrown out of court.
  • sandplasma - November 2, 2012 11:07 a.m.

    The ego on this guy.

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