The Lindsay Lohan vs. Grand Theft Auto V lawsuit is moving forward, as the Mean Girls actress scored a partial, preliminary victory in court recently. Some history: the case dates back to July 2014, when she claimed that GTA V’s “Lacey Jonas” character was an “unequivocal” reference to her. For its part, GTA V parent publisher Take-Two Interactive maintains that Jonas and Lohan are similar only as far they are both young, blonde women. Take-Two further asserts that Lohan is only suing for “publicity purposes.”
However, New York Supreme Court judge Joan Kennedy wrote in a ruling on Friday (via The Hollywood Reporter) that the case will not be dismissed, at least not at this juncture. Up until this point, Take-Two’s legal team provided their own images for the comparison between the fictional Jonas and Lohan. But going forward, Kennedy ruled, as spelled out by THR, that she “can’t rely upon defendants’ documents aiming to show the images in question don’t show Lohan.”
Additionally, Kennedy knocked 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 exception 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,” she wrote.
You can read the full ruling here, as uploaded by THR.
Lohan’s legal squad hit back at Take-Two’s argument in October 2014, adding dozens of images to its complaint showing real-world photos of Lohan that she suggests Rockstar used as reference points for GTA V. According to the complaint, Rockstar “used a look-a-like model to evoke the persona and image” of Lohan by emulating a 2007 photo of Lohan (above).
Her legal team is also claiming that an image of blond character, which they claim is a reference to Lohan, was used in GTA V marketing material such as t-shirts and coffee mugs, as well as advertisements on billboards, posters, buses, buildings, and websites.
In addition, Lohan argues that GTA V does not represent “transformative” use of her likeness (which is protected free speech under the First Amendment) because Rockstar was interested in “financial gain” above all else.
“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.
A Take-Two representative declined to comment.
GTA V actor Ned Luke, who plays Michael de Santa, also chimed in on the matter with his own tweet.
— Ned Luke (@ned_luke) March 14, 2016
GTA V was released in September 2013 and by Take-Two’s latest count has now shipped more than 60 million copies. It continues to sell well, as it was the No. 3 overall best-selling physical game in the United States for February 2016.
Lohan’s lawsuit isn’t the first legal action connected to Rockstar Games’ open-world smash hit. Former Mob Wives star Karen Gravano sued Take-Two, claiming GTA V ripped off her image and life story. More recently, Take-Two itself filed a lawsuit against the BBC over the Daniel Radcliffe GTA drama.