A former Cypress Hill member has reportedly come up short in a publicized $250 million lawsuit against Take Two Interactive/Rockstar over 2004’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas video game.
Details of singer Michael “Shagg” Washington‘s suit dismissal surfaced online Friday (November 2) evening.
An appellate judge ruled the performer didn’t have enough of a case. Game designers draw from a lot of sources. One of the sources Michael “Shagg” Washington, part of the group Cypress Hill, claimed Rockstar used in GTA: San Andreas was his own likeness. Washington claims he had a meeting in 2003 with game designers to talk about his life as a gangster, and even gave them a photograph. This week an appeals judge upheld the ruling saying Washington’s lawyers failed to prove the character of CJ was substantially based on any information Washington provided. “Washington has presented no evidence demonstrating that the plot or characters of GTA: San Andreas have any relevance to his life or his purported fame,” the judge wrote. (Escapist Magazine)
Back in 2010, Washington publicly went after the company for $250 million.
Washington demanded $250 million in damages — a probably unrealistic target, but at least there was some foundation for his belief that “C.J.” was ripped from his likeness: In 2003, he met with a group of game developers and discussed details of his former street life as a gang member. During the meeting, the game developers were allegedly given Washington’s photo. A photo of Washington ended up in the defendant’s files. Washington’s name has also appeared in the game’s credits as a model. But a judge didn’t think the story added up as enough, and now a California appeals court has seconded that, ruling on Wednesday that Washington has failed to establish a probability of defeating Take-Two’s First Amendment-based “transformative use” defense. (The Hollywood Reporter)
According to reports, Washington took heed to the protagonist similarities two years ago.
Fast forward to July 2010, when Washington’s nephew reportedly showed him some of San Andreas’s gameplay. Washington found main character Carl “CJ” Johnson to be a clear representation of himself, and he started putting together a lawsuit over fraud, misappropriation of likeness, and infringement. Rockstar Games credits rapper Christopher “Young Maylay” Bellard as the basis of Johnson, not Washington. (Escapist Magazine)
To date, San Andreas has reportedly sold nearly 30 million copies.
By March 3, 2005, the game had sold over 12 million units for the PlayStation 2 alone, making it the highest selling game for PlayStation 2. As of September 26, 2007, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has sold 20 million units according to Take-Two Interactive. As of March 26, 2008, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has sold 21.5 million units according to Take-Two Interactive. The Guinness World Records 2009 Gamer’s Edition list it as the most successful game in the PlayStation 2, with 17.33 million copies sold for that console alone, from a total of 21.5 million in all formats. In 2010, GTA: San Andreas is the 3rd Best Selling game of all time. In 2011, Kotaku reported that according to Rockstar Games, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has sold 27.5 million copies worldwide. (Wikipedia)
Check out the GTA: San Andreas trailer below: