A judge has thrown out Lindsay Lohan’s lawsuit claiming the makers of Grand Theft Auto V illegally used her likeness in marketing materials. The decision, made on the grounds that GTA V is satire, frees developer Rockstar Games and publisher Take-Two Interactive from a longstanding and somewhat absurd legal battle with the actress. Two years ago, Lohan claimed an illustration of a blonde female taking a selfie in a red bikini, which is featured on the game’s cover art and in promotional material, was in fact based on a photograph of her. She also said another illustration co-opted her "signature peace sign," while an in-game character was a parody of her real-life persona.
"This video game’s unique story, characters, dialogue, and environment, combined with the player’s ability to choose how to proceed in the game, render it a work of fiction and satire," reads the ruling, issued from a five-judge panel in Manhattan appeals court on Tuesday. Considering the GTA franchise’s dark humor generally takes aim at pretty much every facet of modern American society, it’s reassuring rich and famous people can’t sue its creators for that.
Lindsay Lohan's 'signature peace sign' was not enough
Lohan also took issue, perhaps more directly, with an in-game character named Lacey Jonas, who is more or less a caricature of Hollywood and reality television (and a little bit of Lohan for good measure). Jonas is often vapid and self-indulgent, and players are tasked with enduring her dialogue while attempting to outrun paparazzi in a side mission. Lohan says the character, combined with the cover art illustrations, constituted "unequivocal" reference to her without her permission. However, the court found that even if the in-game characters constituted representation, GTA V "does not fall under the statutory definitions of ‘advertising’ or ‘trade,’" so it’s protected by the First Amendment.