Gaming Giant Gets Sued for Stealing Life Story

If a video game company uses your likeness and life story without compensating you, would you call it identity theft? Michael "Shagg" Washington is, in addition to fraud and copyright infringement in his lawsuit with Rockstar Games over the character CJ in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Cypress Hill fans may be familiar with Washington as one of the hip hop group's backup singers. He claims that the main character in the 2004 GTA San Andreas video game not only looks like him but also lives his life story. Why did it take him so long to recognize the resemblance? He doesn't play video games. It wasn't until this past summer that his nephew noticed and notified him.

Washington was interviewed by game developers in 2003 for nearly two hours, where he answered questions about his troubled gang life as a youth on the streets. He was told if they decided to use him in the game, he would be contacted. While his name is included under the "Talent" credits, along with hundreds of others, Washington was never contacted or compensated.

"It’s hard to believe that the makers of a game that allows you to shoot at cops, pick up [women on the street], and run over pedestrians at will, would actually cheat somebody out of money, but this seems to be the case,” said Jeff Grotke, Washington's attorney, who is seeking 25% of the game's profits, which is $250 million!

Both Rockstar and publisher Take Two state that the lawsuit is without merit and they will vigorously defend themselves.

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Categories: Identity Theft

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