Court rules against man who sued over GTA:SA

Nearly two years ago, American model Michael “Shagg” Washington took Rockstar Games to court, claiming the developer used his life as the basis for the game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Somewhat unsurprisingly, news has come to hand that Mr. Washington’s case was not successful.

[img_big]center,2585,2010-11-18/appetizer_12_tif_jpgcopy.jpg,GTA: San Andreas[/img_big]

When the case initially came to light, back in December 2010, Shagg claimed to be a “back up singer for Cypress Hill”, but the band quickly shot that one down.

Shagg is featured in GTA San Andreas, listed as a model in the game’s credits. He told the court that as part of this employment, he was interviewed by Rockstar back in 2003, and later discovered that details of his life had been used in the game without his knowledge or permission. He demanded US$250 million in damages (a quarter of the game’s profits), claiming fraud, misappropriation of likeness and copyright infringement.

As well as storyline similarities, a key part of Shagg’s argument relied on the physical appearance of the San Andreas character CJ. Unfortunately for Shagg, Rockstar was a little heavy-handed with the stereotypes in the game, and the judge explained that “that appearance is so generic that it necessarily includes hundreds of other black males”.

Shagg was unable to provide more substantial evidence – and US laws support transformative use of images, so that was the end of that.

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