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Take-Two Dismisses Its Lawsuit Against Pinkerton Agency As The Latter Runs From Its Own Cease And Desist

from the history-wins dept

At the very start of the year, we discussed a lawsuit filed by Take-Two Interactive against the Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations agency over content within the hit game Red Dead Redemption 2. Take-Two filed the suit seeking a declaratory judgement that its depiction of Pinkerton agents within the game was fair use, as Pinkerton had fired off a cease and desist notice to the game developer declaring that the game was violating its trademark rights and demanded either a lump sum payment or royalties as a result. Pinkerton, which most gamers will not know is a real-life union-busting, outlaw-getting agency that has existed since the west was still wild, probably thought Take-Two would pay it to go away. After all, the arguments for fair use and the First Amendment are quite clear when a work of fiction portrays a parody-take on an historically accurate and quite infamous agency of the wild west.

We said at the time that it was hard to see how a ruling by the court in favor of Pinkerton would do anything other than force artists to license history, which is about as clearly antithetical to First Amendment law as could be imagined. It seems that Pinkerton’s lawyers agreed, as Take-Two announced it has dropped its suit as Pinkerton has agreed to withdraw its demands.

Take-Two and its subsidiary Rockstar filed the suit in January, striking back at a cease-and-desist notice from Pinkerton, which argued Red Dead Redemption 2 had infringed on its trademark. The publisher wanted a court to rule that its use of the Pinkerton name — as part of a game that emphasizes historical accuracy — was fair use. But GameDaily.biz notes that the suit was dropped today, apparently ending the dispute.

“Take-Two can confirm that the present-day Pinkerton Consulting and Investigation company has withdrawn its claims against Red Dead Redemption 2, and Take-Two will not continue legal action against Pinkerton. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a work of fiction set in the late 1800s that references historical entities active during that time,” a spokesperson for Take-Two told The Verge.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of all of this is that it took four months to get here. Any sober look at the claims by both parties in court would have resulted in a win by Take-Two. What’s the alternative? Movie makers paying the Abraham Lincoln estate to make Lincoln? The White Sox demanding a license over the portrayal of the franchise in Eight Men Out? That isn’t how art is supposed to interact with history.

As always, despite the happy ending to this specific case, the real enemy in all of this is the pervasive culture of ownership that causes the Pinkertons of the world to think they can control speech and content.

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Companies: pinkerton, take two interactive

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Comments on “Take-Two Dismisses Its Lawsuit Against Pinkerton Agency As The Latter Runs From Its Own Cease And Desist”

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23 Comments
That One Guy (profile) says:

"Nice pile of money you got there, why not share some?"

As always, despite the happy ending to this specific case, the real enemy in all of this is the pervasive culture of ownership that causes the Pinkertons of the world to think they can control speech and content.

Eh, I suspect this had less to do with wanting to ‘control speech and content’ and more to do with trying to get Take-Two to hand over some of the extensive profits they were/are making from the game in a ‘go away’ settlement.

Unfortunately for the Pinkertons Take-Two decided to call their bluff, leaving them nothing to do but run away like would-be bullies suddenly facing someone willing and able to take them on.

Gary (profile) says:

Re: "Nice pile of money you got there, why not share some?"

Eh, I suspect this had less to do with wanting to ‘control speech and content’ and more to do with trying to get Take-Two to hand over some of the extensive profits they were/are making from the game in a ‘go away’ settlement.

Actually, the bloody Pinkertons have a history of vindictive behavior and petty lawsuits. It isn’t always about greed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinkerton_(album)#Release_and_promotion

Qwertygiy says:

Re: Re: "Nice pile of money you got there, why not share some?"

If it was truly about controlling the speech about them, there are many other instances where the Pinkertons were portrayed in an unflattering light where they might have attempted to file a suit… but didn’t.

The 2001 film American Outlaws stars Allan Pinkerton himself as the sidekick villain, scheming to swindle farmers into selling their homes to the railroad, and murder them if they refuse. The film flopped. No complaint from Pinkerton.

The 2013 song "Book, Saddle, And Go" by Clutch includes the line "Pinkerton man, murdering bastard, I’m gonna get even with you". It was not released as a single. No complaint from Pinkerton.

More curiously, there wasn’t any comment over the very successful game Bioshock Infinite, where the main character was a Pinkerton agent dismissed for being too brutal of a strikebreaker.

John Smith says:

Re: Re:

I think it’s funny as fuck that script kiddies from 4chan, who rely on fake news sites such as this one for their porn and pirated movies, decide to bait me with stinky trolling on a new thread after chasing me from another one.

When I dump the truth about Masnick and his lawyer friends you’ll all be sorry. Not so impotent now, am I, fuckwit? I’ve got a shotgun here with your ass’s name written all over it. You’re going to die just like your precious Section 230. And I’ll be far away, laughing!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yeah perhaps that was why they fled so quickly – afraid people would look at their history and then roll up their sleeves to take out the trash – peacefully (petitioning arguing that said institution really shouldn’t be licensed to work even as mall cops in light of their travesties) or otherwise.

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