Rockstar Games’s Grand Theft Auto series is once again in “legal trouble”, as a Grand Theft Auto: Vice City lawsuit has been filed against the developer and associated companies by the Psychic Readers Network, a network of so-called “psychic” television personalities, claimed that game character Auntie Polet was based on Miss Cleo.
Miss Cleo had previously been part of the Psychic Readers Network, and was one of those spam personalities that would send you fraudulent emails offering a free psychic reading to you. The network, during this point, came under allegations for fraudulent advertising and fraud, since reports were that that so-called “free” psychic reading actually cost money, and that Miss Cleo wasn’t actually reading it at all.
Psychic Readers Network apparently has never heard of the concept of fair use through parody, hence the filing of the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City lawsuit. This isn’t the first time that Grand Theft Auto has been in trouble with celebrities, “celebrities“, or networks on behalf of celebrities, all of whom have been suing the games for supposedly unauthorized use of their licenses.
All of these lawsuits have been thrown out of court, and it’s likely that since Grand Theft Auto often runs on parodies of various American entertainment personalities and politics, that this lawsuit will have the same sort of resolution.
Auntie Polet is undoubtedly based on Miss Cleo (they even got Miss Cleo, real name Youree Dell Harris, who died last July of colon cancer, to voice the character), but considering that parody is a protected bit of entertainment when it comes to Fair Use, the lawsuit is likely going to fall through.
Either way, it’ll likely be a few more months before the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City lawsuit is resolved, and hopefully it’ll be resolved in Rockstar’s favor.