According to singer Michael "Shagg" Washington, open world crime simulator Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is based on his life. Washington, who says he was a backup singer with rap group Cypress Hill, alleges Rockstar games ripped off his life-story and his image for the game, and he'd like to be paid around $250 million dollars for misappropriation of likeness and copyright infringement.
Washington says he met with Rockstar in the early 00s, for two hours to answer questions on "his street life including how the teen-agers in his gang rode around on bicycles." In a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Washington says:
"It began to dawn on him that his image had been stolen for the game. 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 is listed on San Andreas credits under "Talent," (along with, literally, hundreds of other people) which could show he had some connection with Rockstar, but as for his likeness, in a game with such a large number of customization options for the main character -- up to and including morbid obesity -- I don't see how it could be said that Carl "CJ" Johnson even has a likeness.
I'm not lawyer, but the story of GTA: SA seems based, loosely, on the "Boys n the Hood" style urban crime films that were popular back in the 1990s. Come to think of it, when I was teenager, we used to ride around on bikes too! Maybe they stole GTA from me. (I'm from the streets.)
In my non-lawyer opinion, unless this guy can prove he used to fly explosive remote control bi-planes, has a brother named "Sweet" and wants to put to Grove Street on the map, there's no case here. These kinds of "they stole my idea/voice/face!" cases are notoriously difficult to prove in a legal sense. Still, I'm not a lawyer, and I'm often wrong.
So what do you guys think? Does this guy stand a chance of winning his case? Could he be in the right? Has a video game ever been based on your life?
Source: Hollywood Reporter