While most of us might think of the Pinkertons as a part of American history long past, the security company still exists as part of the firm Securitas AB. As it turns out, they’re not happy with Take-Two Interactive using their «likeness» in their popular open word western, Red Dead Redemption 2. In fact, the company is demanding royalties for the Pinkerton name being used in the game.
For those unfamiliar, the Pinkerton’s were established in the mid-1800s. During the Civil War, they worked as personal security for Abraham Lincoln and did everything from guarding military contractors to functioning as a private law enforcement organization. They were also very involved in putting down union strikes during the late 19th and early 20th century, which makes them more villain than hero to a lot of people.
Unsurprisingly, this isn’t the first time the Pinkertons have been represented in popular media. In fact, Wikipedia lists over 30 movies, TV shows, and other entertainment media in which the company has been depicted.
This does, however, appear to be the first time the organization has taken issue with a company depicting them in a work.
Securitas AB sent a cease-and-desist order to Take-Two regarding the two Pinkerton agents depicted in the game: Andrew Milton and Edgar Ross. The company claims that Take-Two’s inclusion of the duo in the game might give the impression Red Dead Redemption 2 is connected with the Pinkertons in some way, and that people might even think they made the game.
Securitas AB also demands that Take-Two pay Pinkerton, either in a lump sum or in royalties.
Take-Two, for their part, has filed a counter-claim, noting that their depiction of the Pinkerton agents is protected by the First Amendment. They go on to note — as we did above — that the agency has been included in a large amount of popular media, particularly that dealing with the «Wild West.»
For example, the agency is even referenced in BioShock Infinite.
As the Red Dead Redemption series has proven extremely popular, where we raved about the newest entry, Take-Two contends that the Pinkertons are trying to cash in.
As the complaints are still relatively new, it will be a bit before we find out the actual outcome. One thing is certain, however: Whatever the outcome, it will be an interesting statement regarding copyright in popular media.
A copy of Take-Two’s counterclaim can be found below. And, as always, check back with us for future updates on this situation.