And we’re back with another episode of Lindsay Lohan Sues People For Stuff They Didn’t Do. It’s been a while, so you may not remember that Lohan, who has been quite lawsuit-happy in the past, was reportedly discussing filing a likeness-rights suit against the makers of Grand Theft Auto 5, claiming that a character in the game is based on her. That was in December of last year and apparently over six months of her lawyers explaining to her what parody is hasn’t taken, because reports are now coming out that she has indeed filed in a New York court:
Lindsay Lohan is suing the makers of the “Grand Theft Auto” video games. The actress says the latest installment used her image and created a character based on her without her permission. Lohan’s lawsuit says a character named Lacey Jonas is an “unequivocal” reference to the “Mean Girls” and “Freaky Friday” star. The suit says Lohan’s image, voice and styles from her clothing line are depicted. It says the game features West Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont hotel, where Lohan once lived.
Once again, lawyers for GTA5 should be able to walk into the courtroom, softly say the word “parody”, and then walk right the hell back out victorious. But, as I previously described, Lohan’s allegations are way more fun than that. She claims that two separate characters are based off her in the same game, including a character that is described as a drunk driver and who enjoys fornicating in public places. One would think that a person would want to avoid claiming a likeness to such a thing, but that’s apparently not the case with old LiLo. Worse yet, while there may be some obvious draws on Lohan’s life story to create this parody, there are several aspects of both characters that clearly have nothing to do with her and are simply composites of celebrity culture in order to create a funny homage to the L.A. celebrity lifestyle.
As other commentators note, suing over this kind of thing has little chance of going anywhere.
As a general matter, you will not be held liable for using someone’s name or likeness in a creative, entertaining, or artistic work that is transformative, meaning that you add some substantial creative element over and above the mere depiction of the person. In other words, the First Amendment ordinarily protects you if you use someone’s name or likeness to create something new that is recognizably your own, rather than something that just evokes and exploits the person’s identity.
As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve played this game, played this mission, and I didn’t once eventhink about Lindsay Lohan. The character is just mocking celebrities that get themselves into trouble and generally behave like entitled miscreants. The only reason I now associate those kind of personality flaws with Lindsay Lohan is because she insisted on it through this lawsuit that will likely fail. So…well done all around, Lindsay!
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