BBC being sued over GRAND THEFT AUTO docudrama

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It wasn’t too long ago that we told you the BBC was developing a 90-minute docudrama around the life and times of Rockstar Games’ best-selling ‘Grand Theft Auto’ video game series, and on it’s (British) creators Sam and Dan Houser. As we said then it forms part of  a “BBC initiative to increase young peoples’ interest in learning digital skills”.

However it turns out someone was not very happy about this. Not Jack Thompson, who infamously sued the company multiple times to prevent the game being sold with no success, but Rockstar Game’s parent company – publisher Take-Two Interactive. They’ve instituted legal proceedings against the BBC in an attempt to prevent them from creating the programme. In a statement to IGN regarding the suit they said:

Take-Two Interactive has filed suit against the BBC for trademark infringement based on their movie currently titled ‘Game Changer’ as it relates to Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto video game series.

While holders of the trademarks referenced in the film title and its promotion, Rockstar Games has had no involvement with this project. Our goal is to ensure that our trademarks are not misused in the BBC’s pursuit of an unofficial depiction of purported events related to Rockstar Games. We have attempted multiple times to resolve this matter with the BBC without any meaningful resolution. It is our obligation to protect our intellectual property and unfortunately in this case litigation was necessary.

When IGN contacted the BBC for comment their spokesperson responded, “It’s a right kerfuffle innit. ‘Ow ’bout a nice pint an’ some fish ‘n chips down at the local then while we sort this mess out?” OR they said, “We do not comment on legal matters.” I’ll let you decide, because that’s how docudramas work.

This’ll have to be resolved fairly quickly as filming already began on 20 April, and in news that was certainly surprising to me Daniel Radcliffe will show us how the magic happened because he’s starring as Sam Houser; and Bill Paxton as the muggle Jack Thompson.

While it looks as if Take-Two’s concern revolves around how the legal disputes and various controversies around the games are portrayed in the docudrama, potentially painting themselves and Rockstar Games in a negative light (like now), that horse bolted a long time ago and it’s mostly a matter of public record. So I doubt they’ll be successful in their attempt to have the production shut down. It also seems unlikely that, given the BBC initiative’s stated intent of promoting interest in digital skills, the docudrama will focus heavily on the negative. What do you think?

Last Updated: May 22, 2015

Trevor Davies

I like pie, I think.

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