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GTA: 5 times Rockstar was sued for their games' content 

(image credits: Forbes)
(image credits: Forbes)
Rahul Bhushan
ANALYST
Modified 20 Oct 2020, 23:56 IST
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Rockstar Games, and by association, their parent company Take-Two have courted controversies relating to the GTA franchise, including the other games, for years. Over time, Rockstar would have undoubtedly grown accustomed to the kind of media attention that the GTA franchise and the other games have received.

However, media attention does not directly impact the company as much as a lawsuit does. Rockstar has repeatedly been filed with suits, but the publisher has yet managed to remain on top.

Here we take a look at the times when the GTA franchise a the other games from Rockstar that drew the ire of certain personalities.

5 times Rockstar and Take-Two were sued for GTA and other games

1) Linsday Lohan's likeness being "stolen" by Rockstar

Famous American actress Lindsay Lohan alleged that Rockstar had used her likeness without her consent and was thus seeking damages. She claimed that the female depicted on the cover of GTA V was a dead-ringer for her and that Rockstar had, unbeknownst to her, used her likeness for the cover of the game.

Swimsuit-clad pictures of her made their way onto the internet for fans to speculate whether Rockstar had indeed used Linsday Lohan's likeness for GTA V's cover. However, after much debate, fans had concluded that it wasn't the case.

Several judges also felt similarly and dismissed the actress's suit as frivolous, and the case was dismissed several times after the actress's repeated attempts. Model Shelby Welinder revealed, in an Instagram post, that she was later commissioned by Rockstar to pose for the cover of GTA V.

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2) Jack Thompson hates video games

One of the most critical voices in the early 2000s and perhaps one that went a tad bit too far with his tirade against video games, and GTA, in particular, is disbarred Florida attorney Jack Thomspon.

Thompson had been a strong proponent of the anti-GTA and anti-video games sentiment and has been hard at work with his activism against video games. However, video games aren't his only enemy, as he has also targeted rap music, radio hosts, and several other aspects of modern media.

He has had a long, drawn-out history with Take-Two and Rockstar regarding the content of the GTA games. He filed a suit in several states alleging that the GTA franchise is responsible for violence and murder in the country.

The case was thrown out in many states, yet, Jack Thompon is still pretty active against his campaign against video games.

3) Convict blames GTA for putting him in prison

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One of the most bizarre cases brought against Rockstar Games and Take-Two was former federal prisoner Johnathan Lee Riches, claiming that GTA was responsible for putting him in jail.

The case he presented claimed:

"Defendants contributed to Plaintiff committing identity theft. Defendant's games show sex, drugs, and violence, which offends me." Riches continued, "Defendants put me in prison. I face imminent danger from violent inmates who played Grand Theft Auto, who will knock me out and take my gold Jesus cross."

It simply doesn't get weirder than a convict claiming that a game (GTA) was mostly responsible for his current state. However, GTA and Take-Two weren't the only ones against whom Riches had filed cases.

The list of people Riches had filed a suit against included Britney Spears, former President of the United States George W. Bush, former Attorney General of the United States Janet Reno, Martha Stewart, NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, and Steve Jobs.

4) The real Pinkerton Detective Agency files a cease and desist letter for Red Dead Redemption 2

This one came, not as a result of the GTA games, but for Rockstar's other popular open-world game franchise, Red Dead Redemption. The Pinkerton Detective Agency, which has long been a fixture of any media that has to do with the Old West, was also featured heavily in Red Dead Redemption I and II.

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The game's primary antagonists included two agents from the Pinkerton Detective Agency, which drew the ire of the real-life agency. As a result, they sent a cease-and-desist letter to Take-Two with regards to their negative depiction in the games.

As a result, this time, Take-Two decided to take the matter to court instead of the one being sued. Take-Two wanted the court to rule that the Pinkerton Detective Agency's portrayal in the game fell under Fair Use for historical accuracy.

The case was later dropped by Rockstar's parent company, Take-Two after the Pinkerton Consulting and Investigation company withdrew their claims.

5) Former president of Rockstar North sues the company for $150 million

This one was a bit too personal for Rockstar, as one of the company's most valued figures had filed for damages in unpaid royalties to the tune of $150 million. The case came as a result of Leslie Benzies, former president of Rockstar North, alleging that he had been pushed out of the company.

Leslie had served as producer for most GTA games and many other titles from Rockstar and was one of the key figures in the game's development. His case claimed that he had been locked out of the office upon returning from his sabbatical in 2016, and was subsequently pushed out of the company.

Rockstar and Leslie settled the case out of court, with both parties choosing not to disclose the settlement sum.

Published 20 Oct 2020, 14:33 IST
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