Former Cypress Hill Singer Loses Lawsuit Against Rockstar
Michael “Shagg” Washington, former backup singer for hip hop group Cypress Hill, has lost his $250 million lawsuit against Rockstar Games and its parent company, Take-Two Interactive, the Hollywood Reporter reports.
Washington filed the lawsuit against the two companies in late 2010. The lawsuit claimed that Rockstar had used his likeness, and apparently his life story, for the character Carl “CJ” Johnson in Rockstar’s 2004 open world game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (pictured above).
Washington’s name is listed in the game’s ending credits as a model, and it was revealed that the singer had been interviewed by Rockstar prior to the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. In the interview, Washington supposedly detailed his former street life.
Despite this, the judge said that Washington wasn’t able to come up with sufficient evidence to prove his claims, and the lawsuit was dismissed.
“[The] plaintiff 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,” the judge reportedly told Washington.
For Washington to have won the case, the judge said that more substantial evidence would need to be shown such as identical tattoos or birthmarks.
Earlier on in the year, No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani won a case against Activision for using her and her band’s likeness in Band Hero, a case that was brought up in Washington’s own lawsuit.
“The court in [No Doubt's case] concluded that the defendant’s literal depictions of the plaintiffs were not transformative because the No Doubt avatars … perform rock songs, the same activity by which the band achieved and maintains its fame,” the judge explained.
“Here, however, Washington has presented no evidence demonstrating that the plot or characters of GTA: San Andreas have any relevance to his life or his purported fame.”