Attorney fights right of publicity fight… and then some.
Jack Thompson, the Florida lawyer with a seldom-rivaled knack for keeping this site supplied with material (Oct. 20, etc., etc.), has fired off a cease-and-desist letter to the publisher of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon demanding that it stop publication of the game because participants can use it to create characters based on him. A Slashdot posting explains that Thompson’s “image is not actually a selectable character in the game,” but John Scalzo at the Gaming Target website (scroll down) has published instructions on how to use the game’s build-a-fighter mode to create a character based on Thompson, widely loathed among hobbyists because of his courtroom assaults on popular games (among the character’s features: “puffed out self-important look… Banshee Scream. …no victory pose because, let’s face it, he’s never won”).
Ouch. Even plaintiff’s lawyers (of which I am frequently one) have their limits in terms of the alleged absolute value of publicity, or in this case the right of publicity. Perhaps this would be a good sample of that limit:
Jack Thompson is the most violent man in America, ergo, he is a perfect fit for Mortal Kombat. Don’t believe me? Check out any one of Jack’s recent tirades both before and after his Contempt charges in Florida the other day. The man was ready to massacre that judge. … When it comes to kombatants, Jack is truly in a class by himself.
Indeed, he is. Thompson is the “only officially certified sane attorney in Florida.”
Why would a conservative website such as Overlawyered join in the fun of mocking Thompson, a conservative Republican most of whose targets are traditional enemies of cultural conservative values? Well, the site is actually non-partisan, so give them a point for evenhandedness. Also, because using the courts — or, more accurately, attempting and usually (though, despite the suggestion above, not always) spectacularly failing to use the courts — as an engine of social engineering is not a particularly conservative value. That, and the fact that Overlawyered leans far more to the libertarian than to the cultural conservative side of things, unless I am very mistaken.
Me, I’m not one of those, but though he strikes me as idealistic, Quixotic, and a little nuts (which I do not reckon a bad thing), and, yes, he’s in court too much and clearly sticks his nose in other peoples’ business — I can’t help but have some sympathy for him. But maybe he should reconsider his outrage over the Mortal Kombat gig.
UPDATED: Jack keeps busy, believe Walter Olson.