Lindsay Lohan's lawsuit against the makers of Grand Theft Auto 5 has been given the go ahead after more than two years of delay. The Mean Girls actress filed a suit against Take Two Interactive and Rockstar Games in July 2014 alleging the unauthorised use of her likeness in 2013's Grand Theft Auto 5 to create the ditzy character "Lacey Jonas".
Despite Lohan's public figure status and the broad protections offered to works of satire in the United States, New York Supreme Court judge Joan Kenney has ruled that the case will not be dismissed, at least at this juncture, and that the evidence from the defendants isn't enough to have the case thrown out. The judge also shot down Take Two's claim that Lohan brought the lawsuit too late.
"Defendants have not been able to prove, at this juncture of the litigation, that the republication exemption to the one year statute of limitations is not applicable to this case because the intended audiences were the same as those of the original publication and the images consistently remained the same," the ruling said.
Moving forward, Kenney ruled that she "can't rely upon defendants' documents aiming to show the images in question don't show Lohan". While Lohan's team claims the character Lacey Jonas was an "unequivocal" reference to her, Take Two argues they are only similar in that they are both young, blonde women.
"The portraits of the Plaintiff (Lohan) incorporated her image, likeness, clothing, outfits, Plaintiff's clothing line products, ensemble in the form of hats, hair style, sunglasses, jean shorts worn by the Plaintiff that were for sale to the public at least two years," the suit claims.
Take Two's legal team have previously called the suit "frivolous", asserting Lohan is merely suing for "publicity purposes". In addition to asking for the case to be thrown out, they also said Lohan should pay for their legal fees.
After Take Two's team provided their own images for the comparison between the fictional Jonas and Lohan, her legal team added dozens of images to its complaint that show real-world photos of Lohan that she claims were used as reference points for GTA 5. They also argued the game's inclusion of Chateau Marmont Hotel in West Hollywood, where the actress once lived, as evidence of image rights violation as well.
"The Defendants were in the business of selling games as opposed to artists displaying artwork in galleries for profit where unauthorized images or portraits of individuals were reproduced in limited editions as opposed to the mass production for commercial promotion and financial gain," reads a line from the complaint.
In GTA 5, players can meet the fictional Jonas character in an alley in downtown Vinewood where she is hiding from the paparazzi. Jonas asks to be driven home, and during the ride, rambles about the struggles of being famous and reveals she has an eating disorder. She also screams out: "This is a disaster!" and adds "Oh my God, I'm so f---ing fat. Oh my God! They cannot get a shot of me!" (referring to the paparazzi) or "How's my hair? Do I look good?" every so often.
However, Ned Luke, who voices GTA 5 actor Michael de Santa, isn't too happy about the ruling.
Lohan's lawsuit against the company isn't the first legal action taken against the makers of the popular game. Former Mob Wives star Karen Gravano also sued Take Two in 2014 claiming GTA 5 used her likeness and real-life story in the game.
Since its release in 2013, more than 60 million copies of GTA 5 have been shipped worldwide across all five platforms, according to Take Two's financial report for Q3 2016