In 2014, actress Lindsay Lohan sued Rockstar Games, alleging that the video game company used her likeness to create the character of Lacey Jonas in Grand Theft Auto 5. Lohan also alleged that Rockstar Games had incorporated her image in the game, including her likeness, her hairstyle, and even the items available as part of her clothing line.
In 2016, a five-judge panel in the state of New York dismissed the lawsuits brought against Rockstar Games by Lohan and Karen Gravano, a reality TV personality who had accused Rockstar of using her likeness. But in February of this year, Lohan and Gravano appealed the dismissal of their lawsuits, kicking things to the Court of Appeals, which is the state’s top court.
The two woman claimed that Rockstar Games had invaded their privacy under New York civil rights law. The Courts of Appeals unanimously rejected this suggestion by a 6-0 vote. The Grand Theft Auto 5 characters are deemed “nothing more than cultural comment” and while Judge Eugene Fahey acknowledged that a computer image could be a “portrait” that supports Lohan’s invasion of privacy claim, GTA 5 depicted a generic young woman.
Fahey wrote that “The amended complaint was properly dismissed because the artistic renderings are indistinct, satirical representations of the style, look, and persona of a modern, beach-going young woman that are not reasonably identifiable as plaintiff.” Gravano’s claims were also dismissed in a separate order.
Rockstar Games and its parent company Take-Two Interactive will no doubt be delighted to see Lohan and Gravano’s cases thrown out. In response to the lawsuit, Take-Two previously suggested that Lohan had filed the lawsuit for “publicity purposes” also saying that it was “legally meritless” and it will have been disappointed that the lawsuit is taking away the focus of its game.
The dismissal of the lawsuit also comes not along ahead of the rumored launch of Grand Theft Auto 5 Premium Edition, a re-release of the popular open-world crime game that is said to come with DLC worth $10 million of in-game currency. GTA 5 already makes bank through sales of the actual game as well as sales of microtransactions as players spend money to earn in-game currency to spend on content such as apartments and fancy vehicles and the Premium Edition will increase these revenues further. However, a successful lawsuit could have been especially costly for the companies (Gravano was asking for $40 million) and so Rockstar and Take-Two will be very happy to see it rejected.
Grand Theft Auto 5 is available now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.