Last December we reported that actress and controversy magnet Lindsay LNN +0.35% Lohan had called her lawyers about the inclusion of a character with her likeness in the blockbuster video game Grand Theft Auto V.
Now Lohan has filed suit against Take-Two Interactive and subsidiary publisher and developer Rockstar Games, the maker of GTA V.
The suit claims that the character Lacey Jonas is an “unequivocal” reference to Lohan, depicting everything from her likeness to her clothing line to the Chateau Marmont hotel where Lohan once lived.
“The portraits of the Plaintiff (Lohan) incorporated her image, likeness, clothing, outfits, Plaintiff’s clothing line products, ensemble in the form of hats, hair style, sunglasses, jean shorts worn by the Plaintiff that were for sale to the public at least two years” the suit claims.
Suing over a parody strikes me as a bad idea, no matter how desperate one’s situation. Whether Lohan is seeking extra publicity or a cash out on the best-selling video game of all time, it’s more than a little sad that she’d acknowledge that the character Lacey Jonas is a portrayal of herself.
Then again, maybe she hopes to use the cash to pay off the $46,000 tab she left at the hotel Chateau Marmont, an establishment which ultimately had to ban the actress from the premises.
It should be noted that Lohan is not the only famous actress to take offense at her apparent likeness appearing in a video game, though she is the only to file suit.
Juno and Beyond: Two Souls star Ellen Page took issue with the character Ellie from Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us.
“I guess I should be flattered that they ripped off my likeness,” she said at the time, “but I am actually acting in a video game called Beyond Two Souls, so it was not appreciated.”
I don’t think Ellen and Ellie look all that much like one another. The resemblance is certainly less obviously intentional than the Lohan/Jonas affair.
According to the Digital Media Law Project: “As a general matter, you will not be held liable for using someone’s name or likeness in a creative, entertaining, or artistic work that is transformative, meaning that you add some substantial creative element over and above the mere depiction of the person. In other words, the First Amendment ordinarily protects you if you use someone’s name or likeness to create something new that is recognizably your own, rather than something that just evokes and exploits the person’s identity.”
I’m not a legal expert, but Rockstar seems to fall well within this guideline. The character in question was not specifically Lohan, and engages in entirely fictional activities that are designed to parody a certain type of celebrity. I sincerely doubt that this case has legs.