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BBC in legal tangle with Rockstar Games over Grand Theft Auto docudrama
Rockstar cites failed attempts at negotiation prior to filing suit.
Game Changer was conceived as part of the BBC’s Make It Digital campaign, which celebrates Great Britain’s contributions to the computer industry and is meant to inspire British children to explore careers in computer coding.
“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,” continues the statement. “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.”
Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series is one of the most iconic, successful franchises in the video game industry. Critical and commercial successes like Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3 have also secured its legacy. Rockstar’s reputation for raw depictions of drug use, sex, and violence in its games have for decades attracted the attention of cultural critics and government watchdogs.
Daniel Radcliffe and Bill Paxton have been cast in Game Changer’s lead roles. Radcliffe will play the notoriously reclusive Sam Houser, co-founder and president of Rockstar. Paxton will play Jack Thompson, the now-disbarred attorney who beginning in the 1990s relentlessly pursued legal action against video game developers and publishers over distribution of mature content. Rockstar Games was a frequent target of Thompson’s.
The Daily Dot requested comment from Rockstar Games, but did not hear back in time for publication. The BBC declined our request, stating that it does not comment on legal matters.
Illustration via Rockstar Games
Dennis Scimeca was the Daily Dot's gaming reporter until 2016. He loves first-person shooters, role-playing games, and massively multiplayer online games. His work has appeared in Salon, NPR, Ars Technica, Kotaku, Polygon, Gamasutra, GamesBeat, Paste, and Mic.