LOS ANGELES (CN) – Michael “Shagg” Washington, a model and back-up singer with rap group “Cypress Hill,” claims Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive Software used his life story to develop the video game “Grand Theft Auto,” which has brought in $1 billion in sales. He demands 25 percent of the money, in Superior Court.
Washington claims a friend introduced him to developers of Grand Theft Auto in 2003, and they asked him about street life.
“The plaintiff, who had led a troubled life in his youth, responded to their questions and related details of his life. The plaintiff told them about details of his street life including how the teen-agers in his gang rode around on bicycles … After almost two hours of questioning which covered many topics of gang and street life, the meeting ended and the plaintiff was allowed to leave,” according to the complaint.
Washington says he “was told that if they chose to use him in the game, he would be notified.”
But in July this year, he says, he learned about “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,” and its lead character, “CJ.”
“The plaintiff had never seen the game,” the complaint states. “He did not own or play video games, but it seemed possible that he had been included in the game. He then recalled the meeting in or about 2003, and it began to dawn on him that his image had been stolen for the game.”
Washington adds: “Upon examination of images of ‘CJ’ and comparison to his photos from that year and other evidence, it became clear that Rockstar (the developer of Grand Theft Auto) had stolen his image and never paid him.”
Washington claims that “as the lead character, profits attributable to the use of his image, and for the use of his story are twenty-five percent of profits earned,” or $250 million, for fraud, misappropriation of likeness and copyright infringement.
He is represented by Jeff Grotke.