Jack Thompson Threatens to Block Release of GTA IV

GTA IV Screen

Just when you thought you’d seen it all, enter Jack Thompson stage left. What’s Jack up in arms about now?

Well, it seems the September 2007 issue of GameInformer magazine contains a little hands on experience with GTA IV. According to the article, the folks at GI were able to play the first mission of the game. This mission supposedly consists of Niko, the game’s central character, heading off to kill an attorney. Upon confronting said attorney in his office, Niko pulls a gun, and the attorney says something along the lines of, “Our firm supports the Second Amendment, and guns don’t kill people, video games do.”

Mr. Thompson takes exception to the inclusion of the aforementioned attorney in the game, as he feels that this is a threat to his personal safety. He asserts this belief in a letter to Take Two, in which he claims that the attorney in the game is actually meant to be him. A short excerpt of that letter can be found after the break.

I have this morning read with interest an article on page 80 and 81 of the September 2007 issue of Game Informer magazine which was generated when, according to its author, Rockstar Games “stopped by the Game Informer offices for an impromptu hour-long gameplay session with the Xbox 360 version of the game.”

The showcasing play of the game to Game Informer revealed that the first killing mission of the “hero” of the game, Niko, is to kill a certain lawyer. When Niko comes into this lawyer’s office, having used subterfuge to do so, Niko pulls a gun on the lawyer who says, “that the firm supports the second amendment and that ‘Guns don’t kill people. Video games do.’”

…The fact that the lawyer, killed on Niko’s first mission, would bring up video games, makes it clearly a reference to me… This is not the first time Rockstar Games and Take Two have targeted me in this fashion. Take Two references to me as a bisexual pedophile on its corporate website…

So, it appears that referencing an attorney in a game is no longer allowed, as any attorney that says video games are bad must be Jack Thompson. Apart from the appalling arrogance that such a claim entails, there is little to no way to prove such a statement. Even if we make the massive leap of faith and accept that the lawyer portrayed in the game is a parody of Mr. Thompson, there are laws protecting acts of parody from such actions.

All that aside, there’s also the little matter of the settlement agreement that Mr. Thompson signed back in April (check the post on Game Politics). In it, he agrees that he, “will not sue or threaten to sue to block sale or distribution of any game published by Take Two or its subsidiaries (i.e., Rockstar).” Anyone see the problem here?

Thompson asserts in his recent letter to Take Two that, “You have until five o’clock P.M. this Friday… to inform me that you are going to delete the above references and any other references that could reasonably be construed to be references to me in Grand Theft Auto IV and any other video games that are pending release… Now you have descended this low – using one of your games to threaten my physical safety… Failure to comply with the deadline… will result in my having to take necessary and proper means to stop release of the game which targets me personally… given the copycatting of violent games.”

Now, I may not be a lawyer, but I have a modicum of common sense, which tells me two things:

1. If Thompson sues to block the distribution of GTA IV, he’s in violation of his settlement agreement, and at the very least can expect to be held in contempt.

2. Thompson’s pet theory of people ‘copycatting video games’ is a delusion that he holds dear, but not one that has ever been proven by any research, court, or any other reputable means.

Granted, I’d enjoy watching this just for the sheer entertainment value of it, but at some point someone will have to take Jack Thompson aside, and tell him to cool it. He may have passed his psychiatric evaluation, but that won’t stop folks from believing he’s nuts if he persists.

If you’d like to read the entire transcript of Thompson’s letter to Take Two, you can find it here.

Thanks to Dennis at Game Politics!

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

21 Comments on Jack Thompson Threatens to Block Release of GTA IV

Stephany

On September 18, 2007 at 7:13 pm

This will have sales of GTA4 blasting through the roof of any retail store that sells it. Anytime extra controversy surrounds a game, the better the sales.

Also, I have to say that the “copycatting” theory is a bit far-fetched. Ex: I am a hot, sassy red-head, and I have no desire to go into the deserts of Arabia, and slaughter people due to any real or imagined vendetta – a la Heavenly Sword. Personally, the dry heat of such a place would just do a number on my hair.

Secondly, the likelihood of “copycatting” is more predominant in “younger” children than older ones. Children are more likely to copy their parents than a video game – this is why molestation and alcoholism still run rampant in this country. Monkey see, monkey do….

Daniel

On September 18, 2007 at 8:07 pm

The sheer arrogance of Jack Thompson in this latest news story is amazing. If Rockstar did in fact parody Jack Thompson in the first mission of GTA IV, I say good for them. It’s about time someone parodies his insane actions. That’s what’s so great about this country, you can pretty much make fun of anything and get away with it.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

On September 18, 2007 at 8:16 pm

Jack should be honored to be included in such an awesome game.

Sesmu

On September 18, 2007 at 8:23 pm

I can tell I will already like GTA4… :twisted:

Phil Migrowen

On September 18, 2007 at 9:43 pm

“I have a modicum of common sense, which tells me two things:

1. If Thompson sues to block the distribution of GTA IV, he’s in violation of his settlement agreement, and at the very least can expect to be held in contempt.”

Apparently you either have no common sense or need more than a modicum of common sense if you believe #1 to be true. First, you don’t know the actual terms of the settlement agreement between Take 2 and Thompson because it was not publicly disclosed. So, Thompson may not be in violation of it if he attempts to block the sale of the game. Second, a settlement agreement is not imposed by the court, i.e. it is not a court order, but rather a contract between the two litigants. If a case is settled by the litigants, the plaintiff simply withdraws his original complaint. Violation of such a settlement agreement would not result in a contempt citation since such a settlement is not imposed by the court. However, it could reopen the door to litigation by one of the parties to the agreement.

“Now, I may not be a lawyer”

Well at least you got that part right.

Jimi

On September 18, 2007 at 10:07 pm

I am surprised this didn’t come months ago… I have been telling people how excited I am to kill Jack Thompson (only in a video game though). I do believe the lawyer is Jewish though… but it is good enough for me. BTW, both my parents are lawyers.

Sherman

On September 18, 2007 at 10:39 pm

:roll: Apparently Phil here seems to be wanting to let his parents know that the tuition money they supplied wasn’t for nought.

NES

On September 18, 2007 at 10:51 pm

@ Phil Migrowen:

Are YOU a lawyer? That was filled with many legalities and… big… phrases… that would make your IQ at LEAST 180. (Then again, maybe I’m judging on my own stupidity)

But, seriously Phil, that was a great rant. You get a gold star.

Ron Whitaker

On September 18, 2007 at 11:14 pm

@Phil – My invoking of the settlement agreement was based solely on the linked report concerning it, which was quoted in the article. Obviously, there are many types of settlements. I’ve seen folks who violate settlements be cited for contempt, and warrants issued. It all has to do with how the settlement is worded.

But, I appreciate your take on it. Considering that neither of us knows what the EXACT terms of the settlement are, we can safely agree to disagree.

Chumly

On September 19, 2007 at 4:54 am

“Guns don’t kill people, video games kill people.”

Chumly

On September 19, 2007 at 4:58 am

Where’d the rest of my comment go? I said that the quote up there used to be a bumper sticker you could buy at think geek, and it had a cute little picture of a tetris L block being pointed like a handgun.

And that including a Jtesque target in their game is bad taste on rockstar’s part. Whether it’s just a lame joke or scheme to stir up some controversy-type popularity it doesn’t reflect well on them, and that JT is the greater of two evils in this conflict.

ShadowAngel

On September 19, 2007 at 10:46 am

@Phil
Actually, if you put your attention to the following URL…

http://www.gamepolitics.com/images/legal/FL-T2-JT-settlement.pdf

… You’ll find a copy (at least I’m assuming) of the agreement in question in it’s full legal terms as linked from the article from Gamepolitics concerning it. Now, along with the author of this article, I’m no lawyer, but it seems to have been ordered by the “United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.” Further it appears to be intended to be signed by a judge. Thus, to my limited knowledge of court agreements, making it a matter of court jurisdiction and not simply an agreement between two parties. The final Paragraph beginning with “Approved, Done and Ordered…” Would seem to indicate this.

This beign said, I fully understand and accept that the document linked can be a complete fabrication and since it is not signed by either Jack Thompson or the Presiding Judge, may not be the agreement in its final form. But, assuming that GP isn’t lying to us. There you have it.

Ron Whitaker

On September 19, 2007 at 11:08 am

Ah, the actual document itself. Why didn’t I see that before *smacks self*.

Looking at this document (and again, I’m no attorney) I see that Thompson cannot under the terms of this agreement, sue or threaten suit to block the sale or distribution of any game from Take Two or any of their subsidiaries. He retains all rights to criticize said games and their distribution, of course.

As Shadoel says, we again have no proof that this IS the final document. However, in this form, I’d reassert my belief that contempt charges are the very least Thompson can expect.

Phil Migrowen

On September 19, 2007 at 3:54 pm

“Now, along with the author of this article, I’m no lawyer, but it seems to have been ordered by the “United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.” Further it appears to be intended to be signed by a judge. Thus, to my limited knowledge of court agreements, making it a matter of court jurisdiction and not simply an agreement between two parties. The final Paragraph beginning with “Approved, Done and Ordered…” Would seem to indicate this.”

It is not a certainty that document is the actual settlement agreement since although it appears to be a copy which was entered into the record, it hasn’t been enacted since it isn’t signed by both parties and the judge. Even though Thompson is the defendant in the lawsuit, it looks like something that Thompson drew up and filed since Take 2′s representative didn’t sign it.

In addition even if that is the agreement, in it the court is simply ordering that the case be dismissed so that Take 2 can’t sue Thompson again for the same claims. While the court does grant itself jurisidiction to enforce the agreement, that means that it would be the venue to litigate future disputes over the agreement. It does not enjoin the parties from violating the agreement, order either party to perform a specific act, or incorporate any references to the executory terms of the agreement. One or more of those things are usually necessary to seek civil-contempt remedies for the violation of a settlement agreement.

“I’d reassert my belief that contempt charges are the very least Thompson can expect.”

That is wrong. The least that Thompson can expect is nothing because Take 2 would first have to petition the court to enforce the agreement. It is not a certainty that Take 2 would do that because it’s not a perfunctory procedure without cost. Second, even if Take 2 does that, a hearing would be held to consider Take 2′s motion to compel settlement. Thompson would have the opportunity to defend himself against Take 2′s motion, and it is not a foregone conclusion that the motion would be granted (Thompson’s competency as a lawyer notwithstanding). Finally even if Take 2′s motion is granted, civil contempt would not necessarily be the remedy imposed by the court.

Phil Migrowen

On September 19, 2007 at 4:00 pm

“Even though Thompson is the defendant in the lawsuit, it looks like something that Thompson drew up and filed since Take 2′s representative didn’t sign it.”

Correction: It looks like Thompson signed it on page 6 and Take 2′s executive and attorney on page 7 even though pages 6 and 7 appear to be duplicate copies of the same page. Both parties should have signed the same page of the document.

In any case it appears the agreement has not yet been approved and enacted by the court which means that either party could withdraw from it.

somewhat

On September 19, 2007 at 4:06 pm

Funny, Phil hasn’t answered the ‘if he’s a lawyer’ question. Well Phil, I’m curious, are you ?. What do you do for a living ?

jeffb

On September 20, 2007 at 6:21 am

Is GTA4 out of line for killing anti-gamer lawyer, Jack Thompson, in the game? link:

http://www.pollsb.com/polls/poll/2373/a-gta4-mission-apparently-targets-anti-gamer-lawyer-jack-thompson

SOVIET UNION CCCP

On October 3, 2007 at 7:58 pm

:evil:

Jack Thompson if you closed down gta iv,we will caues a war with you and your comay.

we are the soviet from russia. CCCP

cxx

On October 7, 2007 at 9:27 am

ccccccccccccccc

havoc of smeg

On October 7, 2007 at 10:06 am

talk about reading too much into it!
he must be really vein and arrogant to think the attorney is based on him.

all his complaining will only sell all the more copys of GTA4, remember when the church of england complained about resistance: fall of man?

heck, i may just get a copy solely to rub it in!

Sami

On April 30, 2008 at 5:19 pm

funny though, Didn’t a certain lawyer make a offer to give money to charity if someone made a game that killed a certain president of a certain company?

Then a webcomic decided to give the money to charity anyway in his name, and got a C&D from the same lawyer.