So you wanna be a rock superstar? And live large? Big house? Sue Rockstar? No, no you don’t. All kidding aside, the backing singer for popular band Cypress Hill that sued Rockstar two years ago has officially lost his $250 million lawsuit.
Michael “Shagg” Washington sued the GTA developer and its parent company, Take-Two, over claims that his likeness and background had been used as the basis for Carl “CJ” Johnson, the protagonist of 2004’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
Washington demanded $250 million in damages, saying that, in 2003, he had been interviewed by Rockstar and gave them details about his former “street life.” He claims those details were used as a key part of the game.
Although Washington is listed as a model in San Andreas’ credits, a California appeals court judge told Shagg today that he is “relying entirely on CJ’s physical appearance in the game, but that appearance is so generic that it necessarily includes hundreds of other black males.”
According to the judge, Washington would’ve needed more substantial evidence, such as copied tattoos or birthmarks. And since US laws support “transformative” use of images – meaning that one can take a previously established work and turn it into something so different that it doesn’t resemble the original work any longer – the case was lost.