Millions at Stake as EA Sues Bank Robber's Relative Over Godfather Game Machine Guns...

September 2, 2009 -

Notorious bank robber John Dillinger was gunned down by FBI agents in 1934, but his fame lives on. And that is causing some problems for game publisher Electronic Arts.

EA has filed suit in federal court in San Francisco, requesting that a U.S. District Court judge grant them the okay to use the name "Dillinger" in association with a pair of virtual machine guns depicted in its Godfather games. The "Dillinger Tommy Gun" appears in the original Godfather game, while the "Modern Dillinger" is featured in The Godfather II.

The publisher has taken the unusual step because the owner of Indiana-based Dillinger LLC, reportedly the grandson of the famous gangster's half-sister, lays claim to all things Dillinger, including his name and likeness.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys for the publisher last week, claims that Dillinger LLC tried to commit a bit of strongarm robbery on EA recently:

On July 22, 2009 Dillinger LLC, through its litigation counsel, contacted EA to accuse it of violating Dillinger's right of publicity and infringing upon its trademarks. Dillinger threatened EA with litigation unless it agreed to pay Dillinger millions of dollars for the game elements...

 

Following Dillinger's recent conduct, EA is faced with the choice of either abandoning its rights to develop, publish and sell the works at issue or risk liability for damages.

The EA case is not the first time Dillinger LLC has gotten legalistic over the use of the Dillinger monicker. The Arizona Star reports that in 2007 Dillinger LLC claimed its permission was needed for local hotel to run a "Dillinger Days" event. As the newspaper explains, an Indiana law has apparently emboldened Dillinger LLC:

The hotel is being sued under an Indiana law that protects a person's personality for 100 years after his or her death. It works like a trademark, because a person who wants to profit from the use of the personality must obtain written permission. Arizona has no such law, and it's not clear whether the Indiana law applies here.

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of EA's lawsuit here...


Comments

Re: Millions at Stake as EA Sues Bank Robber's Relative ...

Zip, it was pretty clear from the article that (a) Dillinger LLC (the grandson's company) lays claim to ownership of the rights to the name and likeness and (b) under Indiana law, those rights do not revert to the public domain for 100 years.

Re: Millions at Stake as EA Sues Bank Robber's Relative ...

Let me clearfiy my question if you became famous through crime do you still own the rights of the moive?


Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Millions at Stake as EA Sues Bank Robber's Relative ...

That's tricky. Many if not most states have passed so-called "Son of Sam" laws which prohibit profiting in way (books, movies, etc.) from crimes. But, regardless of the relative infamy of the crime, the criminal still owns the right to otherwise exploit their name and likeness.

Re: Millions at Stake as EA Sues Bank Robber's Relative ...

I guess the legal question would be (for modern crimes), do the 'Son of Sam' laws also prohibit 3rd parties from profiting without the concent of the family?

Re: Millions at Stake as EA Sues Bank Robber's Relative ...

I believe most Son of Sam laws apply only to the person who committed the unlawful acts.

Re: Millions at Stake as EA Sues Bank Robber's Relative ...

That's correct. Which would, I assume, pave the way for someone else to depict a crime without fear of legal action by the person who committed the crime (e.g., Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam") It ain't like the real Son of Sam can successfully sue Spike Lee for doing something he himself was prohibited by New York law from doing.  

Re: Millions at Stake as EA Sues Bank Robber's Relative ...

Ah ok.

 

Well then this is jsut EA walking on anothers rightfull CP..... and they wonder why normal folk disregard CP so easily.....


Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

---

http://zippydsm.deviantart.com/

Re: Millions at Stake as EA Sues Bank Robber's Relative ...

That's an easy question, the answer to which is: unchallenged infringement equals more profit.

 
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Neeneko@Wonderkarp - there is still a lot of debate regarding if the movie was a motive or not. Unnamed officials say yes, the timeline says no.12/18/2014 - 9:10am
NeenekoSomething does not smell right though, Sony is no stranger to being hacked, so why cancel this film? For that matter, they are still not giving in to hacker's original demands as far as I know.12/18/2014 - 9:06am
PHX Corp@prh99 Not to mention the Dangerous Precedent that sony's hacking scandal just set http://mashable.com/2014/12/17/sony-hackers-precedent/12/18/2014 - 8:25am
Matthew WilsonI hope its released to netflix or amazon12/18/2014 - 12:11am
prh99Basically they've given every tin pot dictator and repressive regime a blue print how to conduct censorship abroad. The hecklers veto wins again. At least when it comes to Sony and the four major theater chains.12/17/2014 - 11:55pm
MaskedPixelante"It's not OUR fault that our game doesn't work, it's YOUR fault for having so many friends."12/17/2014 - 9:48pm
Matthew Wilsonapparently tetris did not work because he has a full friends list12/17/2014 - 9:21pm
WonderkarpSo Sony cancelled the release of the Interview. was it ever confirmed that the Sony hacking was done because of that specific movie?12/17/2014 - 8:54pm
MaskedPixelanteWow, Ubisoft went four for four, I didn't think it was actually possible.12/17/2014 - 8:37pm
MechaTama31Oh, ok, I was mixing up "on Greenlight" and "Greenlit".12/17/2014 - 8:23pm
Matthew Wilson@phx you beat me to it. how do you screw up tetris?! my ubisoft this is just stupid. no one should ever preorder a ubisoft game again! ps people should never preorder any game regardles of dev.12/17/2014 - 6:28pm
PHX Corphttp://www.ign.com/videos/2014/12/17/what-the-heck-is-wrong-with-tetris-ps4 I give up on ubisoft12/17/2014 - 6:01pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://comicbook.com/blog/2014/08/16/exclusive-original-unaltered-cut-of-star-wars-trilogy-to-be-rele/ Yeah, this'll never happen.12/17/2014 - 5:03pm
NeenekoThey have and exercise control over which games are allowed on their privately controlled 'open forum'. Their endorsement is fairly minimal since it is only 'we do not reject this', but it is still an endorsement of sorts.12/17/2014 - 3:58pm
NeenekoHistorically there have been issues with libraries allowing some groups but not others. Perhaps 'endorsement' is too strong a word, but their editorial control IS a preapproval process, even if the standards are pretty minimal.12/17/2014 - 3:56pm
E. Zachary KnightLet's put this a different way. My local library allows any group to reserve and use multipurpose rooms. That does not mean that the Library endorses all events that take place in those rooms.12/17/2014 - 12:54pm
E. Zachary KnightValve's editorial control comes from removing problem games and accepting games to Steam. They make no claim over any games otherwise.12/17/2014 - 12:52pm
E. Zachary KnightNeeneko, It is not at all a form of endorsement. Grenlight is an open forum for game developers to pitch their game to Valve/Steam and Steam users. Does Valve have some editorial control? Yes, but not to the point that they preapprove games.12/17/2014 - 12:51pm
Neeneko@EZK - I disagree. Greenlight is built off Valve's brand. While not an explicit endorsement, it is a form of it, otherwise Greenlight would have no value over other platforms.12/17/2014 - 12:05pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.latino-review.com/news/exclusive-viola-davis-bags-amanda-waller-role-in-suicide-squad Latino Review says Viola Davis will be Amanda Waller. History of Latino Review says "wait for a REAL news site to confirm".12/17/2014 - 10:48am
 

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