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Jack Thompson vs. Mortal Kombat 89

Nate writes to mention the news that Jack Thompson has issued a cease and desist for the new Mortal Kombat:Armageddon title. Says Mr. Thompson: "It has today come to my attention that the newly recently Mortal Kombat: Armageddon contains an unauthorized commercial exploitation of my name, photograph, image, and likeness within the game." Thompson's likeness has appeared on websites in the game over the last few days as a result of his construction in the 'build-a-fighter' mode. His image is not actually a selectable character in the game, a fact he's chosen to skirt in his demands to Midway. If that's not enough Jack Thompson news for today, Game|Life has the video and commentary on Thompson's dressing down by the judge in the Bully case. Video courtesy of the Destructoid site.
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Jack Thompson vs. Mortal Kombat

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  • "Celebrity" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enoxice ( 993945 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @12:56PM (#16610884) Journal
    Once you are a public figure (or 'celebrity', I guess) you give up certain privacy rights. You don't see Dubya suing SNL for using his likeness, do you?

    Thompson needs to seriously get a grip.
    • Re:"Celebrity" (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PsychicX ( 866028 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:34PM (#16611480)
      So let's see the list of problems here:
      1. As the parent mentions, he's a public figure. That puts his likeness up for grabs.
      2. The game is user moddable, and this is a user mod. I could do an HL2 model of JT (theoretically) and shoot him up, and apparently that'd be Valve's fault.
      3. He doesn't actually have an explanation of why any of this is illegal -- he's a lawyer and he doesn't like it, therefore it must be illegal.
      4. He's already in danger of being held in contempt of court, you'd think he'd at least wait a couple weeks before making it clear he's a nutcase, again.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by idontgno ( 624372 )


        1. Yes. But every public figure thinks they're the exception to this rule.
        2. Apparently, it's someone's fault, preferably the one with the deepest pockets and greatest publicity potential.
        3. Welcome to the world of civil litigation. It's wrong 'cuz I said so, unless the courts (and all subsequent appeals) say otherwise. And then I'll just sue again, in a different jurisdiction, for a trivially different cause of action. Lather, rinse, repeat, ???, PROFIT!
        4. A mad dog doesn't care that people think it's mad. I
      • The game is user moddable, and this is a user mod. I could do an HL2 model of JT (theoretically) and shoot him up, and apparently that'd be Valve's fault.

        Well, wasn't it Rockstar's fault that a user mod allowed people to have wild sex in GTA: San Andreas? According to our buddy Jack, that was definitely the case. True, the content was on the physical disc, but since there wasn't any way to access it sans mod, I think it falls into the same general category.

        Blaming Valve for that - or, here, blaming Activi
        • Actually, in the case of GTA, the company does hold the responsibility for the content that was put on the CD, whether it was available via hack or some secret code or frely available. While the ESRB system does have it's share of problems, it represented the game as a Mature (M) rating based on violence and drug use/content. With the hack, this is a misrepresentation of the content of the game. It would be about the same as a comparison of Die Hard and Basic Instinct both getting a Restricted (R) rating, b
          • If you're wondering why no one replied to your well-thought-out and very-intellectual post you might want to preview it for yourself. It's an eye-gouging WALL OF TEXT!

            Please consider using <BR> tags or, if that's too hard, switch to "Plain Old Text" mode and hit "ENTER" occasionally.
            • The minute I saw it posted I realized the stupid mistake I made. Thank you for the very nice comments on the post.
      • Well, assuming his knowledge of gaming is comparable to what it seems to be... he probably can't tell the difference between user-created content and official avatars.
        However, being a public parody would not protect "Mortal Kombat" if they used his image. Mortal Kombat is a for profit game, not intended as a parody. For-Profit parodies are in a very murky legal area. On the other hand, a game site using his "avatar" as a joke would be perfectly in the clear (well, assuming decent lawyers were involved).
        • For-Profit parodies are in a very murky legal area.

          The key is that you're making fun of what you're using... In the Supreme Courts words, parody "is the use of some elements of a prior author's composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author's works." So 'The Wind Done Gone' is perfectly legal, because it's using 'Gone with the Wind' to comment on... "Gone with the Wind".

      • 2. The game is user moddable, and this is a user mod. I could do an HL2 model of JT (theoretically) and shoot him up, and apparently that'd be Valve's fault.
        JT doesn't care who makes the content. If there is inappropriate, offensive, etc. content available for the game, he blames the publishers. This is exactly like when he blamed the makers of The Sims for all the adult-oriented user content that others made for the game.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        He's already in danger of being held in contempt of court, you'd think he'd at least wait a couple weeks before making it clear he's a nutcase, again.

        Well, at least the next time a judge finds him in contempt of court, the judge can simply rip off his head with the spine still dangling and declare "Fatality!"

      • This humanoid has spent more time in the media and courts trying to suck money he doesn't deserve from game companies than any other single individual I've ever read about.

        He's not a real lawyer. He's a professional thief who uses the courts as the tools of his trade.

        • He's not a real lawyer. He's a professional thief who uses the courts as the tools of his trade.

          I thought that was the definition of a lawyer.
  • The same thing happened with City of Heroes when people started making The Hulk and Wolverine. I would imagine that the same would apply here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sqlrob ( 173498 )
      Lesse, trademarked superheros in a superhero game vs. parody of a public figure

      Yeah, it's the same thing and Thompson will win </sarcasm>
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hell. I made Jack Thompson on City Of Villians. His battle cry is "Stop or I'll Sue!"
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      The two issues are a bit different. The characters made in city of heroes were infringing on the copyright that marvel has to them. While here, Jack Thompson's likeness is used without his permission. The legal issues made out of these two events would probably be somewhat different
    • The same thing happened with City of Heroes when people started making The Hulk and Wolverine. I would imagine that the same would apply here.

      well, not exactly. Marvel owned the trademarks to the likenesses of those characters in the City of Heroes game. CoH was competing with a similar franchise, so it was construed as a trademark violation.

      this mortal kombat thing not only lets you create a likeness of a real person, but also is probably protected by the same laws that protect parody.
      • Actually, Marvel did not win against Cryptic on that case, After a few months in court, both parties reach a settlement which resulted in... nothing against Cryptic (or maybe a payment) and absolutly no incidence on the costume creator. They just started to hit on replica costumes (ie: if you create a costume close to a Marvell character with a similar name, expect a name change from the Game Masters).

        You can read more here: []

        So, I would not expect him to win. There
        • You missed one of the results of Marvel's suit against City of Heroes: Cryptic is developing the upcoming Marvel MMOG. I think you can pretty much call the whole situation a big win by Cryptic since they not only didn't have to pay Marvel any money but in fact are now cashing Marvel checks. :)
    • Except The Hulk and Wolverine are trademarked characters.

      And as far as I know, parodies of trademarked/copyrighted stuff is still legal in this country, isn't it? And doesn't this qualify as parody? And is Jack Thompson's face/likeness a registered trademark?
    • There's a lot of armchair lawyers that will tell you what would've happened one way or the other, but the case actually got settled before the ruling. For a fun time, start a post about it on the CoH official forums. The mods there instavanish any discussion about it.

      Basically, no one's had the balls to take it to court and find out yet. It's inevitable that it'll happen someday, though.
    • City of Heroes didn't do anything wrong in this case because they didn't make those Marvel characters. They had a character creator where a user could alter the attributes of the characters, skin colors, pants length, pants color, mustache, beard, hair length, hair color like an expanded version to those police face flip books that let you come up with a suspect's face. It would be completely unreasonable for CoH to have to include some code that would reject certain combinations of attributes.

      Jack thompson
  • by Recovering Hater ( 833107 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @12:59PM (#16610932)
    The obligatory- "FINISH HIM!" hahah. :)
  • I think... (Score:4, Funny)

    by thoriphes ( 984506 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:03PM (#16611008)
    ...he just needs to UP, UP+BACK, BACK, DOWN+HK his way for a FRIENDSHIP!!! []
  • by Channard ( 693317 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:07PM (#16611060) Journal
    Kicking up a storm only serves to sell more copies of the game. Especially when the game in question is mediocre best. You know, it wouldn't surprise me if Jack Thompson was being paid by Midway to come up with this nonsense. After all, it worked for Rockstar. Manhunt and State of Emergency were both crappy games, yet sold well due in part fo the hype generated around them. And Bully, while not being completely crappy, certainly is a rental-only title and nowhere near up the standard of the GTA games. Mortal Kombat Armageddon, too, is pretty average. Even if Jack Thompson is for real, surely he can't be so stupid as to realize that he's helping sales of the games.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pianoman113 ( 204449 )
      Jack Thompson is the greatest form of Astroturfing ever invented. Game companies hire Jack Thompson to publically denounce or sue them to generate publicity.

      It is absolutely brilliant.

      I need to go and get my JD now...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Mediocre? The few reviews I've read had mostly good things to say about this title raiting it in the 80s and some in the 90s []. I haven't played it myself so I can't say for certain, but several of my friends have purchased it already and have raved about it... I lost interested in the MK series when the went 3D (I've been playing a lot of UMK3 in the Xbox Live Arcade though). However I must say that the ability to create a character that looks just like Jack Thompson as definitely made me interested... Perha
    • Kicking up a storm only serves to sell more copies of the game.

      "Shock Marketing" is only really effective if your product gets a lot of coverage in the mainstream media and becomes a topic of conversation at the water-cooler or coffee machine; Jack Thompsons, by him self, doesn't have enough influence to make a tame (by today's standards) videogame like Mortal Kombat sell well. The reason Jack Thompson is doing this (and all of his grandstanding) is because it increased name recognition and furthers his pol
      • when they hear about the "Hot-Coffee Mod" they think that Rockstar is selling a sex simulator to their children; when they hear about "Oblivion Nudity Mods" they think that Bioware is selling a game with rampant Boobies to their children;

        I'd rather have my children playing sex sim than violent crime sim, and watching boobies rather than people getting killed with swords. I guess that makes me a pervert.

  • by chroot_james ( 833654 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:08PM (#16611066) Homepage
    what sco is to linux.
  • The video might have been alright if it wasn't half some-guy-driving-around-Miami.
  • by liak12345 ( 967676 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:13PM (#16611154)
    Dear MK Developers,
    I recently purchased your violence simulator which you refer to as a game called Mortal Kombat: Armageddon. While observing the features of the game I tested out your Kreate a Kharacter option which lets you customize a character to your preferences given a wide variety of choices. Apparently I can design a character in a suit and name him Jack Thompson, which makes this game in clear violation of allowing games to design men in suits and name them after people. You are ordered to Cease and Desist production of this game immediately until my name and all variations of spellings are disallowed during designing characters in suits. This includes "Jerk Thompson" AND "Jackoff Thompson".

    Jack Thompson, the original man fighting lost causes
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:18PM (#16611224)
    Put up a website with Jack Thompson's "likeness" and list a whole bunch of generic "kill all the lawyers" joke. That should trigger a lawsuit in a hurry. After a lawyer was killed a number of years ago in California, the state politicians wanted to outlaw "kill all the lawyers" jokes and they were really offended that people were laughing at them for suggesting such a law.
    • It wasn't intended as a joke. From the wikipedia article linked to earlier:

      "In his depiction of Cade's rebellion in Henry VI, Part 2 is the well-known line, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Although this is usually interpreted to be antagonistic to lawyers, others have seen that the text of the play makes clear that precisely the opposite meaning is intended. Cade seeks to cement his revolution by destroying the justice system."

  • In a related story, Jack issued another lawsuit today against the Crayola corporation after my five-year-old cousin made a crayon drawing of the devil, titled "Jack Thompson"
  • Oh, Jack... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tickenest ( 544722 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:38PM (#16611554) Homepage Journal
    Thank God we have someone incompetent like Jack Thompson carrying the torch for this crusade instead of someone who actually knows what he's doing.
    • I'm just waiting for the day it's revealed that Jack has actually been in the pay of various computer game producing companies all along. Paid to drum up extra publicity for them.

      Seriously, not being into the genre, I'd never have heard of this new MK game if not for his latest shenanigans.

      Oh shit, did I just give him an idea for his next law suit? Suing said games companies for lack of payment for the promotion he's been doing for them....
    • Ah, but would someone who knows what he is doing actually want to carrying said torch?
  • I just used a 'Staedtler' felt tip pen and some 'Evolve' copier paper to create a likeness of Jack Thompson about to be crushed by a giant letter 'P' falling from a cinema sign. Watch out Staedtler and Evolve! You could be liable!
    • And I just printed out several copies of a photo of Jack Thompson, wet them and scrunched them up and used them to make a scale model of Jack Thompson carrying a "Jack Thompson is Gay LOLZ" banner.

      Jack Thompson should watch out because if Jack Thompson finds out about this Jack Thompson is seriously screwed!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 27, 2006 @01:53PM (#16611818)
    Jack Thompson threw his eyeToy across the room after he realized it was trying to "capture his soul."
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by frosty_tsm ( 933163 )
      "I suddenly realized my soul was missing. I remember having a soul a long, long time ago, and only just now noticed it was gone. Then I saw my likeness on the TV! Therefore, it is the eyeToy's fault for stealing it and putting it in the TV!"
  • Is there a limit to the number of nutball lawsuits you can file? Could the video game industry sue Jack Thompson for all these frivolous lawsuits that cost money to defend?
    • I'm not a lawyer, but I believe the answer is no. You can file as many crappy lawsuits as you'd like.

      And if these gaming companies would like to recover their legal expenses, I believe they can sue him for returning these fees, but courts are typically pretty gun shy about awarding these types of verdicts unless there are very egregious circumstances (which, despite OUR opinions, this probably is not) because it could serve as a deterrent to others for bringing legitimate cases before courts -- for fea
  • The MK series has sucked-out-loud after Mortal Kombat 2, which was like 12, 13 years ago? I have a hard time begrudging anyone for trying to prevent further sequels, regardless of their reasons. But... I do get a chuckle from thinking of Mr. Thompson is a savagely bloody fighting game. Where can I find a screen-shot of this custom-created Jack Thompson character?
  • Summary of the video (Score:5, Informative)

    by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:31PM (#16612568) Journal
    This summary is kind of haphazard, and may not be totally chronologically accurate, there may be things out of order -- I don't really feel like watching it again though.

    First 5 minutes of it are spent watching some dork drive, then run into the courthouse, camera running. Thank god for fast-forward. Once inside the courthouse, he gets both Jack and Judge Friedman in the picture. Mostly Jack, whose body language is nothing short of nonchalantly defiant throughout.

    Judge F, throughout, speaks very calmly, slowly, repeats himself quite a bit, indicating that this isn't the sort of game he would want his kids playing, but "that is not the test" and that the defendant would prevail on first amendment grounds.

    Jack first speaks up, saying something like "am I going to be allowed to speak at this hearing?" but offers nothing, except to try to hold up a rather oversized (about 5 feet tall) sign, which we don't get to see. The judge doesn't actually say anything except "no" and Jack quickly takes the sign down, and it doesn't come back up (at the end of the video as Jack is leaving the courtroom, you can see that it has some relevant statute concerning disqualification of judges). Jack hands the bailiff a normal sized printout to hand to the judge, but no indication is given as to what it contains. One could easily assume it's the same thing as on his poster.

    The judge then goes on to call Jack's behavior "inappropriate, unprofessional, and contemptible", and in his usual style, repeats himself quite a bit saying it. He mentions how Jack filed a lawsuit against the judge and attempted to use that as a reason for the judge to recuse himself, which the judge shoots down by saying that you can't simply sue a judge you don't like just to get him out of your case. While the judge is dressing Jack down for this, Jack is making a big show out of putting away his papers, like he's getting ready to leave.

    Jack does get a little soliloquy in though: basically he tells the judge to his face that he "you misrepresented what was said in your chambers", and several times used the word "misrepresented" -- basically accusing Judge F. of lying. Ouch. The Judge is pretty much unfazed by this.

    I saved the best for last: Judge Friedman won't hear the Motion to Show Cause, he's kicking it to another judge. The reason for this is that Judge Friedman has himself filed a complaint with the Florida Bar about Thompson's behavior.

    So not only is Thompson still facing contempt charges, he's going to be up against the bar again. Last time, the FL Bar paid him off to go away, but now he's almost certainly going to face disciplinary action again, and this time, they might just decide to give him some serious payback.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by AlwaysHappy ( 951252 )
      You left out what in my opinion was the best part! Jack actually tries to hold his sign up two or three times, the judge finally gets him to keep it down, and then tells the bailiff if he puts the sign up again to take him into custody. I used to worry that this guy might actually convince people that video games were horrible things, but after seeing that video I have no worries anymore. He acts more like a 5 year old then a lawyer.
      • by nuzak ( 959558 )
        I didn't notice him make a move for the sign after he held it up the first time, and I couldn't understand most of what the judge said to him during the sign bit. I have almost as much ADD as Jack, I guess. I'm going to have to watch the video again. :)
    • It's a pity that once they were allowed to bring a camera into the courtroom, they didn't take the opportunity to a) arrive on time and capture the entire procedure, b) capture audio and video clearly and c) Not behave like an idiot. The portion during which this dork's cell phone went off was perhaps the most relevant during the entire procedure, but even if it had been captured, we would probably not know what was said because of the garbled audio. If the author had borrowed a decent camera to shoot the v
  • by bigbigbison ( 104532 ) on Friday October 27, 2006 @02:47PM (#16612950) Homepage
    Jack is such an expert on technology he threatened to sue people who emailed him responses to his comments when gamepolitics was on livejournal. ...then someone pointed out that in his livejournal account the option to get emailed every time someone responded to him was turned on and all those emails were automated because of his settings...
  • You know, as well as having times when I know we can do better, there are times when I'm just ecstatic to be living in a democracy, and of being a US citizen.

    This is a time I love living in a democracy. We have an ENTIRE SYSTEM setup to relegate these nut balls to the trash heap. Sure... we'll listen to your crappy argument, your faulty logic, and your desire to control others. Sure you can file your petitions, make your legal movements and show your "evidence".

    But at the end of the day, Mr. Jack
  • by DaveJay ( 133437 )
    What I want to know is: when are people going to start suing the makers of art supplies? I mean, I could go out right now -- RIGHT NOW -- get some cray-pas, and draw actual pictures of Jack Thompson. I could even sign his name, and give 'em out to friends!
  • to support free speech when you have fucking wackjobs like Jack Thompson and the psychos in the Westboro Baptist Church [].
    • If it makes you feel any better, countries WITHOUT freespeech have much more serious problems with wackjobs -- because the wackjobs tend to be the ones controlling the speech, and no one has the right to publically contradict those wackjobs that are down with the feds.
  • I still remember the days when Mortal Kombat was all about likenesses of real people.

    Man, Elizabeth Malecki was hot...
  • "It has today come to my attention that the newly recently Mortal Kombat..." (Emphasis mine)

    Christ, Jack, if you want to write a respectable cease and desist letter and not come off as an ignorant douche, at least proofread the dang thing...

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes