Lindsay Lohan Doesn’t Have Precedent On Her Side In GTA V Likeness Suit
Lindsay Lohan has been posturing for months over claims that Take-Two and Rockstar used her likeness without permission in Grand Theft Auto V. Specifically, Lohan has pointed to character Lacey Jonas, claiming that the developer and publisher have capitalized on her celebrity to sell copies of the title.
The character in question is a minor player in the story, as players help Jonas avoid paparazzi. Lohan also claims that the photo of a bikini-clad woman taking a self-photograph commonly associated with the game is modeled after her. In actuality though, it’s model Shelby Welinder (via NowGamer), who was contracted by Rockstar for the purpose.
Another day, another dollar https://t.co/SpjU1jSmCQ— Shelby (@ShelbyWelinder) May 22, 2013
A similar suit was brought in 2006 against Sega of America by singer Kierin Kirby of Deee-Lite (“Groove is in the Heart”). Kirby alleged that Space Channel 5’s Ulala was designed to emulate her look and style.
The court awarded summary judgment to Sega, offering that the first amendment provides complete defense for misappropriation of likeness in the cases where use is “transformative.” In other words, provided that Rockstar did something new with the character, Lohan doesn’t have precedent on her side. In this case, parody or satire are not required, though would likely provide additional defense.
Grand Theft Auto V sold $800 million worth of copies to customers on its first day and topped $1 billion shortly thereafter. The title will be coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC later this year.
Lohan isn’t likely to win this case. Freedom of expression, the fact that the character is absolutely minor, and the added bonus of GTA’s satirical bent all should keep Take-Two and Rockstar safe in the courtroom.