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“Take-Two can confirm that the present-day Pinkerton Consulting and Investigation company has withdrawn its claims against Red Dead Redemption 2, and Take-Two will not continue legal action against Pinkerton.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.