Posts Tagged ‘Grand Theft Auto’

Grand Theft Auto: Class Action Objection II

I never thought I’d be involved in a hot-coffee lawsuit, but Gamepolitics covers my intervention and objection to the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas class action settlement, which I predicted before the suit was even filed.

(I corrected a mistake in the earlier post; I said I purchased GTA:SA for the Xbox 360 when, of course, I purchased it for the Xbox. Fortunately, my affidavit to the court was correctly phrased.)

Grand Theft Auto roundup

Grand Theft Auto IV debuts at midnight tonight to spectacular reviews, and the litigation is sure to follow…

  • Overlawyered favorite Jack Thompson (Mar. 21; Feb. 22; Sep. 27, etc., etc.), whose antics could fill an entire sub-blog, has sent an obnoxious letter to the mother of Rockstar’s boss, Strauss Zelnick, accusing it of being pornography and training for murder. A new book, Grand Theft Childhood, as documented by WaPo’s Mike Musgrave, suggests that the fears of corrupted childhood are overblown, though Lord knows I wouldn’t let any teenage kids I was responsible for play this game.
  • As someone who purchased Grand Theft Auto:San Andreas the first day it was out for the Xbox 360 original Xbox, I am a member of a plaintiff class in a class action settlement over the Hot Coffee mod where players can access the Internet and voluntarily modify the game to make it slightly more offensive to the easily offended. (To imagine that one can find p0rnography on the Internet!) In the settlement, I get, well, nothing, and the attorneys will ask for about a million dollars; worse, individual “representative” class members who suffered no injury will get $5000 that could have been used to buy more music rights for Grand Theft Auto IV. We’re frequently asked what we can do if we’re unhappy with a class action settlement where we’re a member, but this settlement was sufficiently appalling that I actually retained an attorney and he served an objection on my behalf on Friday. Further updates to come.

Update: I incorrectly said I bought San Andreas for the Xbox 360. Of course, San Andreas was never available for the 360. I bought the June 2005 release for the original Xbox.

Update: More.

Exclusive: Grand Theft Auto deposition

Back in 2005, when the first lawsuits were filed over the Grand Theft Auto hot coffee mod, I wrote:

Me, I’m just amused by the thought of class action attorneys trolling for a named plaintiff parent who will testify that, while she was okay for her little Johnny to buy a game involving drug dealing, gambling, carjacking, cop-shooting, prostitution, throat-slashing, baseball-bat beatings, drive-by shootings, street-racing, gang wars, profanity-laced rap music, violent homosexual lovers’ quarrels, blood and gore, and “Strong Sexual Content,” she is shocked, shocked to learn that the game also includes an animation at about the level of a Ken doll rubbing up against an unclothed Barbie doll with X-rated sound effects…

Alas, Take Two games has given in to the blackmail and settled the case, but a sense of how frivolous it was can be seen from the following deposition excerpt of lead plaintiff Brenda Stanhouse, a schoolteacher in Belleville, Illinois, who will receive $5000 for her role in the litigation. Recall that Mrs. Stanhouse is alleging she was defrauded because she would not have bought a game that could be modified to include “pornography,” but take a look at pp. 67 ff. of the deposition, where she makes clear she didn’t have the faintest idea what was in the game that she did buy. Readers: type your favorite Stanhouse deposition excerpts in the comments.

Grand Theft Auto “Hot Coffee Mod” class action settlement

In 2005 the makers of Grand Theft Auto, Take-Two Interactive and its subsidiary RockStar Games, acknowledged that the wildly popular game included a hidden “mod” which when activated revealed a scene of simulated sex. As readers may recall from our 2005 coverage (here, here, and here), class action lawyers immediately hopped on the story, filing suits on behalf of purchasers who were purportedly outraged at the inclusion of one more lurid fillip in a game already known for its lurid content, and who wanted refunds and other legally ordered relief. Now Robert Ambrogi at Legal Blog Watch (Feb. 1) has details on a settlement that will shower buyers with $5 coupons and other goodies (it helps if they’ve saved the store receipt) and enable them to “get a replacement disk, sans sex scenes” — just what so many players want! — while bringing the lawyers a fee haul of $1 million.

Jack Thompson: I’m being imaginarily assassinated

Anti-videogame Miami attorney and longtime Overlawyered favorite Jack Thompson claims that players in the forthcoming Grand Theft Auto IV are given instructions to kill a certain lawyer in his office and that the lawyer utters the line “Guns don’t kill people. Video games do,” which means it must be a parody of Thompson himself. He’s fired off a demand that the release be halted. (, Sept. 18; Geoffrey Rapp, PrawfsBlawg, Sept. 20). For Thompson’s legal threats last year against the publisher of Mortal Kombat because users can employ the game’s build-a-fighter mode to create characters that might resemble him, see Oct. 30, 2006. Plus: Thompson responds in comments.

April 11 roundup

  • Chief exec of 1-800-ATTORNEY ended up needing one himself, pleading guilty to securities fraud charge [NYLJ, Lattman]

  • Cost of providing liability insurance for Pennsylvania prison doctor greatly exceeds his pay [Shamokin, Pa. News-Item, Dr. Robert Hynick, Northumberland County Prison]

  • “Scottish sociopaths sipping their single malt Glenlivet” — yep, Jack Thompson is suing Grand Theft Auto developers again [GameSpot]

  • Anna Nicole Smith fee-ing frenzy: $4,265 for Bahamas cellphone roaming part of “fair and reasonable” lawyer’s bill [TMZ]

  • Working in a prosecutors’ office? More about nailing ’em than making sure justice was done [Dean Barnett via MedPundit]

  • Don’t forget imprisoned Egyptian blogger Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman [Palmer @ NRO, Doherty @ Reason]

  • “Pretexting” to fish out adversaries’ secrets: yes, lawyers do it too, now that you mention it [Elefant]

  • Which is more dangerous to kids, a house with a swimming pool or a house with a gun? Think carefully before answering [Stossel]

  • For shame: Supreme Court of Canada gives go-ahead for British Columbia’s retroactive tobacco recoupment suit [Ottawa Citizen, CBC, Bader; earlier]

  • Anti-biotech activists score, farmers squirm as judge halts sale of Roundup Ready alfalfa [Farmer-Stockman, Feedstuffs, Truth about Trade & Technology](more: Coyote)

  • Soap opera actor sues after ABC writes his character out of the script [five years ago on Overlawyered]

Letter from a new father

Reader Greg Dwyer of Oregon sends the following:

Yours is the website I have been continuously reading the longest and the one I most identify with. So I figured I’d tell you something. I recently celebrated the birth of my first son, Michael Gabriel. And he will not go through life padded in Nerf.

He is going to play dodge ball and tag.

I will let him eat trans fats and foie gras.

He can play Grand Theft Auto when he is old enough.

He will know that medicine is a risky business that doesn’t always provide perfect cures.

He is going to be able to shoot a gun well by the time he is 21 and I will take him to get his gun license myself.

Most of all, I will teach him that life is what you make of it and if he fails at something, he will have no one to blame but himself.

Loving father and non-victicrat,

Greg Dwyer

“Suit Blames Video Game for N.M. Slayings”

Yes, it’s regular Overlawyered mentionee Jack Thompson (Aug. 17, Jul. 24, Jun. 25, etc.) at it again — how did you guess? This time he wants $600 million from Take-Two Interactive, Sony and other defendants over the rampage by 14-year-old Cody Posey on newsman Sam Donaldson’s New Mexico ranch, which left three members of the youth’s family dead in July 2004. It seems Posey had “obsessively” played the game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. (AP/Washington Post, Sept. 25)(via KipEsquire). More: Lattman, Sept. 27.

Another Grand Theft Auto lawsuit

The lawyers just love to sue Rockstar Games (e.g., Aug. 17; Mar. 5; Jul. 27, 2005; Feb. 19, 2005; Dec. 29, 2003); this particularly ludicrous suit alleged that “Grand Theft Auto:San Andreas,” the first part of which takes place in an ersatz parody of Los Angeles, infringed the trademark of a local strip club, “The Play Pen” because the game’s version, “The Pig Pen,” (one of hundreds of locations in the game) had a similar name and also had a parking lot and a round awning. Judge Margaret M. Morrow rebuffed the claim. But it took 100 entries on the docket, numerous depositions of game designers, expert-witness surveys, and a 55-page judicial opinion before this common-sense issue could be resolved in court. Moreover, the PlayPen attorneys say they’ll appeal, subjecting the matter to the random-legal-opinion generation of the Ninth Circuit. (AP, Aug. 8; Trademark Blog; E.S.S. Entertainment 2000 v. Rock Star Videos, CV 05-02966 MMM (C.D. Cal. July 28, 2006)).

In the weird coincidence department, one of the junior defense attorneys in the suit is not only someone who has worked on behalf of the RIAA in their oft-criticized “spamigation” suits against individuals who allegedly illegally download songs, but a co-creator of the lonelygirl15 Internet phenomenon.

Jack Thompson, meta-Bully

Take-Two Interactive/Rockstar, a controversy magnet for its Grand Theft Auto game, has unveiled a new game called Bully, set at a boarding school. Despite the predictions of some anti-game activists that the new production would glorify bullying, a reviewer for the New York Times says it does nothing of the sort: “the entire point of the game is that bullies (noticeable at a distance by their distinctive white shirts) are everyone’s enemies”. (Seth Schiesel, “With Bully, Rockstar Looks to Beat the Grand Theft Auto Rap”, New York Times, Aug. 10). None of which stopped Overlawyered favorite Jack Thompson (Jul. 24, Jun. 25 and many others) from firing off a letter to Take Two and Wal-Mart vowing to file suit to stop the game’s Oct. 1 release unless they provide him with an advance copy to criticize. Bit-Tech has the gory details (Brett Thomas, “Jack is back to beat up on Bully”, Aug. 15). And now it’s reported that Thompson having gotten no satisfactory answer to his demand letter, he’s proceeded to sue under Florida nuisance law to demand such an advance copy (Eric Bangeman, “Jack Thompson sues over upcoming “Bully” title”, Ars Technica, Aug. 16). Update Oct. 14: judge demands to inspect the game.

More: Steve Chapman, as usual, has a relevant observation: “Like adults, who can enjoy murder mysteries without ever feeling the need to commit murder, adolescents apparently can separate the fantasies of mass entertainment from the realities of how they want to live their own lives.” (“Teens’ lives don’t always imitate art”, syndicated/Chicago Tribune, Aug. 10).