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Los Angeles sues Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas makers

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Los Angeles has taken the makers of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to task over the game's infamous but now deleted "hot coffee" sex scenes.

LA City Attorney Rockard J Delgadillo this week filed a lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court against GTA:SA developer Rockstar Games and publisher Take-Two Interactive, alleging the two firms made misleading statements when marketing the game and engaged in unfair competition, both violations of sections 17200 and 17500 of the state's Business and Professions Code. If found guilty on both counts, the firms face fines of up to $5000 each.

The game's steamy scenes were exposed in July 2005 and soon provoked a furore when a number of major retailers yanked the title from their shelves after the US games industry watchdog, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, re-rated the title from 'Mature' to 'Adults Only'. The scenes were not displayed by default, but required a third-party utility to turn off the so-called 'censor flag' to activate them.

Take-Two and Rockstar soon withdrew the game and re-issued it the following September with the offending material expunged. But not before the US Federal Trade Commission said it was investigating the matter and an 81-year-old grandmother from New York sued the companies concerned for engaging in "false, misleading and deceptive practices" after buying the porn-porting version for her 14-year-old grandson.

Curiously, the murder, robbery, drug dealing, foul language and bad driving also portrayed in the game doesn't seem to have overly concerned her. Thank heavens there's no dancing in it.

That's essentially Delgadillo's beef too. Take-Two and Rockstar may have removed the smutty content from the game, but before they did, he maintains, 12m copies worth $600m were sold.

"Greed and deception are part of the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas story, and in that respect its publishers are not much different from the characters in the story," Delgadillo said. "Businesses have an obligation to truthfully disclose the content of their products - whether in the food we eat or the entertainment we consume." ®

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