Recently a lawsuit brought by Lindsay Lohan against the makers of the “Grand Theft Auto V” video game was dismissed. Lindsay Lohan, along with Karen Gravano of the show “Mob Wives,” each brought lawsuits against the makers of “Grand Theft Auto V” alleging that the Defendants violated their rights of publicity, under New York law, by misappropriating their name and likeness without authorization. New York Civil Rights Law § 51 provides a cause of action to “[a]ny person whose name, portrait, picture or voice is used within this state for advertising purposes or for the purposes of trade without . . . written consent.”
Both plaintiffs allege that while playing “Grand Theft Auto V” users encounter characters that depict the plaintiffs. Namely, Lindsay Lohan alleges that Defendants used her “bikini, shoulder-length blonde hair, jewelry, and ‘signature “peace sign pose”” in an avatar and that her facial features and physical appearance are used in the game. Karen Gravano similarly alleges that her likeness is used in the game, and argues that a specific character “uses the same phrases she uses.”
The Court dismissed both Plaintiffs’ causes of action reasoning that the Defendants never referred to Lindsay Lohan or Karen Gravano by name, used their actual names, or used a photograph of either Plaintiff. Further, the court found that “Grand Theft Auto V” was a work of fiction and satire and, therefore, did not fall under the statutory definitions of “advertising” or “trade.”
Please contact our office if you have any questions regarding the information in this article.
Daniel Devine, Esq.
Santucci Priore, P.L.
 See, Gravano v. Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., 2016 WL 4543521 (N.Y. App. Div. Sept. 1, 2016).
 See, N.Y. Civ. Rights Law § 51.
 Gravano, 2016 WL 4543521.