Cypress Hill backup singer Michael "Shagg" Washington's lawsuit against Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas developer Rockstar was shot down in a California appeals court this week, after Washington was unsuccessful in proving his case that the game appropriated his likeness, Hollywood Reporter reports.
Washington, who was seeking $250 million in damages from the developer, claimed that the lead character in San Andreas, Carl "C.J." Johnson, was modeled after him. His name appears in the credits of the game as a model, and he says he also spoke with the game's developers about his life as a gang member before joining the musical group. Despite his supporting evidence, a California appeals court judge said it was not possible to prove that the in-game character truly did co-opt his likeness.
"Plaintiff is relying entirely on CJ's physical appearance in the game," the ruling reads, "but that appearance is so generic that it necessarily includes hundreds of other black males."
The judge ruled that if the character was modeled after Washington, it was sufficiently "transformative," a First Amendment exception which effectively negated Washington's argument.
The ruling is sharply contrasted to another case settled earlier this year, in which representatives for the band No Doubt argued that characters modeled after the band's members shouldn't be able to sing other bands' songs in Band Hero, turning them into "a virtual karaoke circus act." The case was settled out of court after a judge ruled that the band could sue the company for fraud and breach of contract.