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E-mail Battle of the Gamer Lawyers

While nowhere near as violent as the video games they discuss, a recent string of e-mails between two lawyers plays out like virtual fisticuffs, with one ultimately exclaiming to the other, "Are you nuts?" The two are longtime adversaries. In one corner: Jack Thompson, a conservative Miami attorney who is an outspoken opponent of violence and sexuality in video games. In the other: Gena Feist, vice president and associate general counsel of Take Two Interactive, maker of the violence-strewn Grand Theft Auto series of games. Earlier this year, Take Two  filed a lawsuit against Thompson stemming from his threats to try to block sales of new game releases. Thompson countersued with charges that Take Two violated federal racketeering laws. A month later, the two parties reached a settlement agreement bringing the litigation to an end.

Now a recent series of e-mails suggests the settlement could unravel. The Web site GamePolitics.com published the e-mail exchange on Friday. The exchange starts with an Aug. 27 e-mail Thompson sent to Take Two's chairman and CEO, as well as to the Federal Trade Commission and the press. In it, Thompson notes that the game Manhunt 2 has been given a "mature" rating and then writes:

"I want to bring to your attention the fact that at www.rockstargames.com anyone of any age can order Manhunt 2 and receive it, with no age verification whatsoever.  Asking a 14-year-old if he’s 17 is not age verification, now is it?

"You also know that the use of a bank card as an age verifier is a violation of all bank card agreements, right?"

That brings a response from Feist defending the company's age-verification practices and calling Thompson's statements false:

"We demand that you cease making these false statements about our online sales practices.  Your dissemination of knowingly false statements for the purpose of adversely affecting Take-Two's business is actionable and we reserve all of our rights under the settlement agreement and state and federal law."

That results in a further exchange in which Thompson tells Feist to "stop lying," and Feist replies that she will not "get roped into this type of dialogue." As the e-mails continue, Feist responds with this:

"We entered into the settlement agreement because we did not want to engage in unnecessary litigation with you, but I assure you that we will enforce the terms of the agreement if necessary and that any suit will include a claim for our legal fees under paragraph 11."

Which brings this from Thompson:

"What is wrong with you?  You threaten me with enforcement of the agreement, and I ask you how I have violated it.  Are you nuts?"

GamePolitics wraps up all its links to the ongoing dispute between Thompson and Take Two at this page. The site is careful to caution that there may have been additional e-mails that it did not receive, but that the series provides "a fascinating glimpse into the longstanding struggle between Thompson and Take Two."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 4, 2007 at 04:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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