NY High Court Will Hear 'Grand Theft Auto' Misappropriation of Image Suits From Lindsay Lohan, Karen Gravano

New York state's highest court granted leave to appeal Thursday to actress Lindsay Lohan and former reality television star Karen Gravano in their suits over alleged misappropriation of their likenesses in the video game "Grand Theft Auto V."

The Court of Appeals did not explain further why it would hear appeals in the two cases, Lohan v. Take-Two Interactive Software, Motion No. 2017-74, and Gravano v. Take-Two Interactive Software, Motion No. 2016-1016.

It usually takes about a year for the court to hear oral arguments from the date it allows the appeal.

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Michael Grygiel, a Greenberg Traurig shareholder who specializes in media and First Amendment law, said cases like those of Lohan and Gravano reflect the tension between the publicity rights of celebrities and the free speech rights of those seeking to use images commercially that have become widely recognized in popular culture.

Grygiel said there has been a "surge" in such cases recently in New York and in other court jurisdictions, which he attributed to the wide dissemination of cultural images in video games, on social media and other platforms driven by digital technology.

"Although other considerations may be involved, these cases tend to have more traction with courts where the claimant is a prominent celebrity or athlete who has recognizable endorsement or commercial value in their personality," Grygiel said in an interview Thursday.

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