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Vicarious Existence

To blog about what is going on in the MMO genre from a casual MMO player's viewpoint.

Author: UnSub

Grand Theft Auto Hot Coffee: Lawyers (Likely) To Drink The Milkshake

Posted by UnSub Wednesday June 25 2008 at 1:10AM
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According to the NY Times the class action lawsuit inspired by GTA:SA's Hot Coffee mod (you can do your own googling for that!) is close to being settled. The end result - the people in the suit will get a few dollars, the lawyers behind it get a good payday:

"Far bigger than the payout to plaintiffs will be the fees sought by the lawyers who brought the class action. Mr. Lesser and his colleagues at 10 other law firms have asked for more than $1.3 million — compared with less than $30,000 that Take-Two Interactive’s lawyers say it will spend to resolve the claims for $5 to $35 each (and, sometimes, a sanitized copy of the game).

“It doesn’t typically go that way,” said Mary J. Davis, a law professor at the University of Kentucky who has studied this type of litigation. To have legal fees dwarf a settlement payout, she continued, “is sort of backwards.”

The company and the plaintiffs lawyers both point out that the company has also agreed to make an $860,000 charitable contribution."

The full article is interesting, especially the back half that talks about parents being more interested in protecting their children from a mini-game they can't unlock during normal play but not caring so much about the violence in GTA.

Personally I don't care that the lawyers ended up with the cash here half as much as I care that Rockstar didn't fight against it harder and try to seek a legal ruling. Any game that can be impacted by mods - this includes MMOs - runs the risk of someone unlocking something they shouldn't and this kind of decision opens the door to the next time someone sees something that offends thine eyes (obviously not the copious blood and gore, but perhaps a stray nipple or undressed female character model) they'll run after the company, wallet open to collect the cash. It's a risk to Rockstar, sure, but if they - who make a lot of money off their adult-orientated games that they keep trying to pretend don't have the content they have - won't stand up and fight, no-one will.

Or someone will who doesn't have the money / resources they have and are more likely to lose, thus locking the rest of the industry into a legal finding they don't want.

And yes, I'm aware I'm abusing both beverage analogies and internet memes in the title. :-)