Take-Two Tells Jack Thompson Debate Promoter to Stop Using GTA Images

Last week, Jack Thompson told ABC’s Nightline that he’s out to destroy Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar Games.

Yesterday, attorneys for Rockstar’s parent company, Take-Two Interactive, fired off a letter to Wolfman Productions, a Connecticut firm which is promoting a college debate tour featuring the controversial Miami attorney.

T2’s lawyers demanded that Wolfman immediately cease displaying a GTA San Andreas logo on the web page used to publicize the Thompson tour. By last evening, Wolfman Productions had apparently complied with the demand, as the GTA image is no longer visible. Remaining on the debate page, however, are well-known video game characters Duke Nukem, Master Chief and Lara Croft.

GamePolitics has not yet received a comment from Wolfman Productions, although, to be fair, it was after-hours when we learned of this situation via e-mail from Thompson. For his part, the Miami lawyer’s response to the Take-Two cease-and-desist was typically vitriolic. An e-mail from Thompson to Take-Two’s attorney read, in part:

Are y’all threatening CBS and ABC and Rolling Stone  and every gaming site and magazine in the universe, or just my college debate booking agent because you and your bullying company think they can get away with it?  

… I am going to have am absolute ball pointing out to the world that Take-Two, the self-righteous, great defenders of “freedom of expression,” simply CANNOT abide Jack Thompson’s agent using allegedly protected trademarks of Take-Two.  Freedom of expression my butt.  

By the way, we note that author Gerard Jones (Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes & Make Believe Violence) has been added to the Thompson debate tour. That’s a step up from Bob Gucicone, Jr., whose connection to the video game issue was unclear, at best.

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  1. 0

    Sorry, all. Although I disagree with Thompson just about every time I’ve heard or read the man, I agree with Thabor: I think Take Two is wrong on this one, especially on the copyright allegation.

    A profit motive does not immediately rule out a fair use under copyright or trademark law.

    Criticism is specifically one of the things that fair use in copyright is supposed to encourage. Using copyright law to quash criticism is certainly a free speech issue.

    Trademark is trickier, but there are certainly nomitive uses of trademarks that are legal.

  2. 0
    Yuki says:

    My Name has been invoked again.

    I feel loved. :p

    Anyway, Yes, jack has a long history of such actions. Gamespot for example was threatened by him for not reporting his death threat claim without proof. Tom Busgilla, I think thats how it’s spelled, was to debate jack and jack backed out in fear.

    Liberty City Stories is another example. Mortal Kombat most recently to.

    Jacks A loud mouth loser who hates losing, It’s a shame thats all he’s been doing for the past 12 months.

    Regardless, odds are this debate tour will rapidly fall apart on itself no that someone who knows what the hell there talking about is lined up to debate jack. considering that jack was afraid to debate our buddy Tom, It’s doubtful that he’d have a prayer against Gerard Jones either.

    Oh what i’d give to be there with a bag of popcorn.

  3. 0
    Thabor says:

    “You’re not quite right on this. Using someone else’s trademark or logo without permission to promote yourself for profit does not fall under “fair use.” At this point, I’m wondering if Eidos and Microsoft are aware of the violations occurring against their trademarked properties.”

    @dog welder

    It depends almost entirely on how they are using it. Retailers use other’s trademarks all the time when they advertise products. Be it selling Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, or World of Warcraft : The Burning Crusade. You think IGE hasn’t been sent a cease and desist by almost every MMOG out there?

    To me there is little difference between Take Two’s letter to Wacky Jacky, and the recent episode we had of a company trying to quash a negative piece on a blog site.

  4. 0
    Bryan The Fox says:

    I still fail to understand why those popular characters are used in the first place, they have no text… they’re just there. they represent absolutely nothing at their current position, it’s almost as though they want to treat these characters as un-official poster boys/girls. It’s annoying as hell, and perhaps it’s just to get a rise out of the gaming community, and possibly spur violence on it’s part. And ultimately furthering THEIR cause. Furthermore, Mister JT is going the way of an annoying blister, just give it some ointment and it will eventually go away right? WRONG!! JT here is a bit more annoying than the other blisters, instead of just oozing pus, this one likes to yell and make fun of your mother (Figuratively of course). And like some of the more annoying of blisters, this one likes to re-appear from time to time just to make your life a living hell. The pain might be unbearable right now. But from what I can see it is far from un-endurable, for the time-being. So remain steadfast gamers.

    –Fox out–

  5. 0
    Daniel says:

    I don’t think the issue here is the displaying of GTA logos on Jack Thompson’s tour. It’s what he said that disturbs me. He said that he wants to destroy Rockstar Games. He has to lose his license to practice law before he can do it. Rockstar Games is innocent and must be protected from the evil grasp of this madman. Another thing that deeply bothers me is that Jack Thompson managed to get on T.V. and go around the country with his lying case and that people are willing to listen to his raving lies and deceit. No one should listen to him. Where can I get an I Hate Jack Thompson T-shirt? I am starting to want one more and more.

  6. 0
    Whadafa says:

    don’t you guys understand, he just wants to destroy rockstar for jesus so he can get into heaven

    Rockstar should put him into the next gta game, and you can put a code in and bang this guy’s ass in an alleyway, or someone should make a mod for sa, film it and then slap it on youtube

    unamerican bastard, somebody strap him to a rocket and launch him over to iraq, maybe his mouth will divert their hate away

  7. 0
    Prof Ding Dong says:

    Games don’t kill people, guns do

    oh wait, guns don’t kill people, people do

    i guess Jack Thompson should change his goal to destroying people

    is it just me or does that person(dude???) next to JT look like they’re planning on blowing up the earth

    maybe he just wants rockstar to give him some money so he can go away and buy a 12 inch golden dildo to shove up his ass

  8. 0
    Daniel says:

    @ Prof Ding Dong

    Great comment! He’s a loser, a golddiger and an ambulance chaser! It’s lawyers like him that give lawyers a bad name. The state of Florida has to take away his license to practice law.

  9. 0
    ~the1jeffy says:

    @ Carlos Ovalle

    No. Read the letter that GP has linked to. The lawyers for TTWO are using trademarked logo law, NOT copyright. Copyright is an IP issue, and not mentioned. Trademark logos are not “tricky.” They are used by permission only. The “Fair Use” clause of trademark law only covers issues where the trademark infringes on Free Speech.

    In this case, TTWO is NOT infringing on the free speech of the debate promotor, they are simply not allowing the specific trademarked image (logo). This image is used by TTWO to show endorsement of a product, and is immediately recognizeable by consumers as such. When, in reality, TTWO/R* has nothing to do with this debate, other than a possible whipping post. So the Free Speech arguement clearly fails, because the debate promotor can stil advertise, host, and profit from the debate in every way excepting the small, narrow detraction of the specific logos that the lawyers attached to the letter.

    Do you wonder why they removed the logo so quickly? Because it wasn’t used with permission, and the debate promoter’s lawyers know they couldn’t use a free speech defense effectively. And most importantly, IT DOESN’T MATTER. The debate tour will go on, and all the publicity around this letter only helps market it.

    And Jack Thompson knows this. He is getting paid for this tour, you know. Nothing like a little spite and flamboyance to stir up attendance.

  10. 0
    FatherTime89 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I don’t see theomposn’s debate tour going as well as Jack probably planned. I mean think about it lets say by some (un)holy miracle Jack somehow wins each and every debate (very unlikely) I don’t think he’s going to convince any of the college kids to join his side, I mean if you win a debate that doesn’t mean you instantly convince your opponent and these are college kids, some of them probably waited in line for 3+ days to get a PS3, or a Wii or at least play video games regularly (although then again one can point out that Jack will probably be debating their effects on children and collegel students aren’t legally kids).

  11. 0
    the1jeffy says:


    I wouldn’t post without reading the letter- did you read the same letter I did?

    The attorneys are claiming both copyright and trademark infringement. Copyright and trademark are both “IP” issues. The term “intellectual property” generally covers copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets/”know how.” Paragraphs 2 and 4 mention copyright. Paragraph 5 mentions violation of 17 USC, the Copyright Act.

    Trademarks are not used by permission only. The Lanham Act specifically lists fair uses (15 USC 1125(c)(4)), and court cases also set precedent for other fair uses not explicitly mentioned by the Lanham Act.

    Trademark logos in and of themselves are not “tricky,” determining whether or not a use of a trademark is a fair use can be tricky. The attorneys are claims are debatable (and really, almost all claims are, which is why we have our legal system. :P). I would think that the use of the copyrighted material is fair. Trademark dilution, false designation of origin, etc., are standard trademark claims which might be arguable, but in this case the hosts found it not worth arguing. They are often misused and overused by trademark holders, in my humble opinion, but it doesn’t matter in this case because it wasn’t fought. It is difficult to determine if it wasn’t fought because they believe they’d definitely lose, or they didn’t want to use whatever resources would be needed to fight it. (This is, as a related aside, one of my biggest problems with the use of trademark law and parts of copyright law, notably the DMCA.) We’d have to hear from their attorneys. I primarily study copyright law, and although I encounter trademark law as a result I am by no means familiar with the statutes and court cases, so I am uncomfortable making a broader statement than I think we can’t dismiss free speech concerns because of the person pointing them out, although there’s certainly hypocrisy there.

    I’m not saying Jack is right about the use of logos. His examples certainly aren’t of the same type as his uses; news commentaries are statutory fair uses of trademarks. However, I believe that he is correct in that freedom of expression in some way is being affected, and I believe he is correct in pointing out that irony. I also believe it’s hypocritical, but I’m sure reasonable people can disagree. ^_^

  12. 0
    Siftr says:

    For someone who claims to have forgotten more about the first amendment than me or any other gamer will ever know, his spelling sucks, and he doesn’t understand that copyrighted materials don’t fall under the use of free speech, especially when it’s for profit.

    also: finally T2 is stepping it up. FINALLY.

  13. 0
    Zerodash ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Wow, Jack. Going on debate tours really is gonna teach the games industry and us gamers a lesson. Everyone knows how many industries have been destroyed by pesky third-rate debate tours.

  14. 0
    BearDogg-X says:

    How delusional is Jacky Boy? Everyone knows that you have to get permission from a company to use their copyrighted trademarks and images. Errrrr.

    What a crybaby.

  15. 0
    Diceman says:

    if they wanted to keep that loga up all they would need to add to the picture would be “murder simulator” and it would be considered parody too bad thompsons cohorts have all the creativity of a 59 year old annoying fundamentalist.

    In any case whore cares about thompson hes hardly relevant anymore >.>.

  16. 0
    Marshie says:

    Doesn’t Jack realize that while Rolling Stone might also use the San Andreas logo (and perhaps even without permission), there’s a very distinct line between criticism for keeping something secret and equating a company’s product to child porn?

    Seriously… T2 won’t go after someone for criticism. They get that often enough that they probably just ignore it. They realize they’ve messed up. They will go after JT, though. If you go out of your way to make yourself someone’s opponent at every step, they’re not going to cut you any slack.

  17. 0
    Jabrwock ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    Fair use laws. Rolling Stone & GamePolitics can use the logo when reporting on news about the game or the company, reviewing the games, etc.

    But JT & Wolfman cannot use the logo to promote their own product (the debate tours) without permission.

    JT amazes me on a daily basis as to how little he actually knows about law. And I majored in Computer Science. Maybe I should write the bar exam in Florida. It seems to easy to pass… 😉

  18. 0
    Jotun says:

    Jack Thompson sir is the most disgusting lawyer I had ever seen… He insulted the Columbine victims and Montreal school shooting victims and didn’t show remorse for the victims and instead, blames video games!

    It’s sad that people like Jack would go unpunished!!! They should be fired from their jobs, because they use their jobs for bad deeds! SHAME ON YOU SIR JACK!!!

  19. 0
    Thabor says:

    Actually I am surprised Jack didn’t fight this at all. Chances are it would be fair use still, as the debate is sure to incorporate references to GTA, and trademark wise it isn’t likely to cause any confusion. I think this is just another example of a corporation attempting to quash speech from someone they find particularly disagreeable. I despise Jack, but I support freedom of speech even for people I will never agree with.

  20. 0
    Fojar says:

    @ Thabor

    Well, JT does have odd priorities.

    Interesting How he considers T2 to be a “bullying” company, since he is essentially bullying (albeit failing) the game industry. Honestly, I can’t wait to see him debate somebody and have his ass handed to him. He seems to be the type of person whose primary argument is “no you shut up” or ” came up with undeniable proof that games are teh evil, but I’m not gonna show you because my proof is just that real.”

  21. 0
    dog welder ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    You’re not quite right on this. Using someone else’s trademark or logo without permission to promote yourself for profit does not fall under “fair use.” At this point, I’m wondering if Eidos and Microsoft are aware of the violations occurring against their trademarked properties.

    Rockstar and Take Two were well within their rights to ask to have the logo removed, and Wolfman Productions was smart to remove it to avoid a court battle.

    This also proves, once again, that Jack Thomson does not, nor has he ever, understood what the First Amendment actually means.

  22. 0
    kapp says:

    they can mention the name as part of the topics for debate, but they can’t use copyrighted imagery. it may seem like a small distinction, but it’s not.

    anytime people see that san andreas logo or that style of art that they use an immediate connection is made, and that connection for some people would mean that the copyright holders are involved in some way. if you see a take two logo and take two isn’t involved in this “debate tour” then it gives a skewed representation of what’s going to be happening at the event

  23. 0
    Gino says:

    Microsoft, Eidos, and 3D Realms need to be made aware that their trademarks are also being infringed upon!

    Take-Two is starting to play hardball, good for them. Let the little man squirm.

    Boy he’s really destroying Rockstar, I can’t find Bully anywhere after he stopped its release….Oh wait, HA HA HA HA HA HA

  24. 0
    ~the1jeffy says:

    Look, this is fairly cut and dry. There is no free-speech arguement to be had on Mr. Thompson’s part. For example, if there was a debate on the effects football violence on today’s youth, and the NFL was NOT involved, the sponsor/promotor of said debate could NOT use the NFL logo. They could debate the issue using NFL football’s specific issues, but the trademarked logo is ALWAYS used with permission. Or if the debate was about the dangers of high fructose corn syrup in soft drinks, they couldn’t use the Coca-Cola trademarked logo, but still could debate the effects of Coke.

    Bad-mouthing TTWO and R* is open season, but logos are used only with permission.

    Try reading trademark laws there, buddy.

  25. 0
    Automancer ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I stopped reading his letter after he said “y’all”. I’m sorry, but unless you are from the midwest or southern United States there is no reason for you to say “y’all” especally in written form.

    Take Two did the right thing here, to put it simply, JT is selling a product and using the Trademarked GTA San Andreas logo (and others) to do it. I say phooey on JT for cheating.


  26. 0
    SinistarX says:

    Guccione had no connection to the game industry, but he does have a history of criticizing JT, mostly from the time of the 2 Live Crew debacle. I would imagine that’s why he was on the tour at all.

  27. 0
    Meggie ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “… I am going to have am absolute ball pointing out to the world that Take-Two, the self-righteous, great defenders of “freedom of expression,” simply CANNOT abide Jack Thompson’s agent using allegedly protected trademarks of Take-Two. Freedom of expression my butt. “

    Surely a great lawyer like yourself has heard of copyright laws. A company protecting their creative property worse than a lawyer stepping on the Constitution? I’d pat you on the back, but then you’d probably sue me.

  28. 0
    nightwng2000 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This coming from Mr. “Or Else” himself.

    Boston Herald
    Gamepolitics (multiple times I’m sure)

    I’m sure someone else, such as Yuki, can list other “change to how -I- want it, or else I’ll sue”.

    NW2K Software

  29. 0
    Thefremen says:

    Can you imagine the email when he loses?

    “Y’all be trippin if ya be thinkin i’d pay tuh use dose images to prahmote mah commershul produkt!”

    LEARN ENGLISH OR GTFO Jack. So sad he doesn’t understand law. Maybe he should hire a lawyer.

  30. 0
    BurntOutTech says:

    I am from the South. Tennessee to be exact. I use the term “y’all” all the time. It’s just something that is done commonly.

    HOWEVER, it is not a term to be used in business communications. It is generally considered poor form as it is not a proper part of the English language, such as it is these days.

    Mr. Thompson, you might want to contact Ms. Bealy, my sixth grade English teacher. She has an F to give to you.

  31. 0
    GoodRobotUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Poor Jack, he can give it, but he just can’t take it can he? He challenges people to meet him on ‘his own ground’ and then throws a tantrum when they do.

  32. 0
    IanC says:

    “or just my college debate booking agent because you and your bullying company think they can get away with it? “

    Jack, Jack, Jack. Maybe if you didnt compare there products to Child Porn they wouldnt have a problem.

  33. 0
    Bissel ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    So wait, Jack’s going on a debate circuit? Who’s he debating? The college kids at the places he’s going? That might be kind of interesting, actually….

  34. 0
    Bissel ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    That’s less than entertaining. Oooo, the guy from Spin. I want Jack to debate college kids so we can watch him being beaten by someone 20 or 30 years younger than he is.

  35. 0
    Snakestream ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Man even if he does debate against college kids, he’s still going to get his ass beat in the debate. Jack can barely string together two logical words without help, and the man has the temper of a four year-old.

  36. 0
    Beacon ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “Allegedly” protected trademark? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that Take 2 ran this through the Patent and Trademark Office, so there’s nothing alleged about it.
    Or is he saying that trademarks are only “allegedly” protected. Kind of defeats the point of them if they’re not.
    Of course, this coming from the guy who felt Take Two was mocking him because they had a character named Jack in one of their ingame radio comercials, or whatever it was he was crying about.

  37. 0
    Catch 33 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    It’s pretty obvious to me that in this instance, like many others, Jack’s action has been specifically tailored to provoke the kind of response from his No. 1 target that gives him room to make yet another “they’re only about their own free speech, no one else’s” comment.

    What I don’t get is how he manages to miss the fact that this kind of thing makes him look like an ignorant fool who does the very thing[s] he often accuses others of.

    Or maybe it’s not lost on him, and he’s just so full of hate that he doesn’t care? That’s about the only explanation I can come up with.

  38. 0
    pix ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Are y’all threatening CBS and ABC and Rolling Stone and every gaming site and magazine in the universe, or just my college debate booking agent because you and your bullying company think they can get away with it?


    why dont you just get a bango and start chewing corn while your at it.

    anyway it appears that they dont just ‘think’ they can get away with it but have in fact got away with it.

    and by ‘it’ i mean using the law to protect its property.

    how is this man a lawyer?

  39. 0
    Catch 33 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    When the politicians no longer seen an opportunity to win votes by hating on games, and when the media no longer cares to even report on violent incidents that might involve games in any way, Jack will either move onto something else or dissappear.

    As much as he would like to convince everyone otherwise, Jack’s just a piranha that follows the tide, snapping at whatever happens to be in the tide’s path at any given moment. Why else do you think only attacks something when it’s either becoming, or already is, popular to do so?

  40. 0
    Catch 33 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    I have a theory that Jack is going to remove himself from the debate in such a way that he can claim the game industry hatched some diabolical scheme to deny him his right to speak.

  41. 0
    hayabusa75 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Jack acted like an immature brat when someone gave him a taste of his own medicine…

    In other news, David Lee Roth decided to leave Van Halen.

  42. 0
    Black Manta ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Catch 33

    You’re probably right about that. He’s welched-out on debates before where his opponents were clearly well-informed on the issues and thus could shoot his arguments full of holes (i.e. Tom Buscaglia), always giving some lame excuse as to why he wouldn’t do it. Jack’s said his favorite story is David and Goliath, which is hypocritical on his part. If I recall correctly, David had to actually come out and face Goliath directly. He didn’t hide behind anything and lob stones at him from a distance, which is more Jack’s preferred tactic. If a man is truly passionate about his beliefs, he won’t mind letting them be challenged. Jack has only gotten as far as he has because most of the people he’s gone up against really aren’t very well-informed about video games (with the exception of Adam Sessler). So with this debate, Jack should finally have to put his money where his mouth is and either put up or shut up. However, if the past is any indication, with someone as well-informed and articulate as Gerard Jones is, I wouldn’t be surprised either if he backed-out at the last minute. It prevents him from ever holding himself accountable.

  43. 0
    Warren Lewis says:

    Jack just has a “thing” for going after Rockstar and Take Two. That’s why all the other violent games and the GTA clones are pretty much left alone these days. Becuase he wants Rockstar/Take Two destroyed.

    And it will never happen unless they do it to themselves.

    – Warren Lewis

  44. 0
    Catch 33 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    [i]However, if the past is any indication, with someone as well-informed and articulate as Gerard Jones is, I wouldn’t be surprised either if he backed-out at the last minute. It prevents him from ever holding himself accountable.[/i]

    That or he’ll be questioning Jones’ credibility as any kind of games expert the whole time. We all know how Jack likes to convince everyone he’s the utmost authority on video games.

  45. 0
    Dustin1986 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Jack acts like he doesn’t understand copyright laws and fair use, but I think he does. If he could use those laws to hurt Take-Two I think he would suddenly remember them. He’s not a stupid lawyer, he’s an irresponsible one. He’ll ignore anything that isn’t convenient.

  46. 0
    Black Manta ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Catch 33

    He might try, but even if he does he’ll still come off like a fool, if only because Jones will probably end up sounding more sensible. Never underestimate JT’s propensity to shoot himself in the foot. He damns himself with his own words.

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