Remember back in 2004 when Rockstar Games and Take-Two released Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas much to fans of the series’ delight? Players could ride around on bikes, steal cars, shoot gangsters and occasionally enjoy some hot coffee. The game was met with a huge amount of controversy that was pretty hard to miss, but apparently a man did just that because he’s waited until now to finally file a lawsuit against the creators of GTA: San Andreas.
Michael “Shagg” Washington, best known as the backup singer in Cypress Hill, has filed a lawsuit against Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive six years after the game’s release. Michael believes he has a case because the game’s main character “CJ” not only bares a resemblance to the way he looked at the time of the game’s launch, but has a nearly identical life story. I’m not sure why he would allow Samuel L. Jackson to drive around a firetruck with his brother hanging off the back, but I guess crazier things have been done.
IGN was able to get its hands on a copy of the claim, and it states that back in 2003 Michael was actually talked to by Rockstar about how his life was when he was growing up. “The plaintiff, who had led a troubled life in his youth, responded to their questions and related details of his life,” claims the claim. “The plaintiff told them about details of his street life including how the teen-agers in his gang rode around on bicycles.”
The suit also states why Mr. Washington was so late in discovering San Andreas. He allegedly saw his nephew playing the game and was struck by how the character looked like him. “The plaintiff had never seen the game. He did not own or play video games, but it seemed possible that he had been included in the game,” the claim goes on to say. “He then recalled the meeting in or about 2003, and it began to dawn on him that his image had been stolen for the game.”
Washington’s attorney, Jeff Grotke, told IGN via email that “It’s hard to believe that the makers of a game that allows you to shoot at cops, pick up prostitutes, and run over pedestrians at will, would actually cheat somebody out of money, but this seems to be the case.”
Take-Two was quick to shoot a response back to comments asking for their take on the lawsuit. A representative had issued a response to stating that they will not back down from this case. “The Company believes the lawsuit is completely without merit and will vigorously defend itself in the matter.”
Washington is seeking 25% of GTA: San Andreas’s total profit, which totals about $250 million. The charges Take-Two faces include fraud, infringement, and misappropriation if likeness.
It’s certainly an odd case, but what’s even more odd is that Washington hadn’t seen the game until this point. Upon GTA: San Andreas’s release it was on almost every single news station around because of the game’s content, and video and pictures were shown on these stations of the game’s main protagonist doing all kinds of different controversial acts. I guess Washington should be happy that his nephew hadn’t upgraded to Grand Theft Auto IV yet, because than he may never have even known that his identity may have been stolen by a fictional character.
What do you think about this case?