College Players Sue NCAA for Allowing Names and Likenesses in Video Games
Six current college football players have joined a lawsuit filed by former players against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for permitting their names and likenesses to be used in video games without compensation. Although Electronic Arts (EA) and the NCAA both claim that the player’s likeness or names never appeared in the video game, the NCAA Football 10 version of the game, which came out in 2009, does contain the name of Tim Tebow who was playing at Florida that year. Originally Filed by Former Athletes Led by former UCLA basketball star, Ed O’Bannon, the original lawsuit included only former players, such as Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell. The addition of the current players also brought out new allegations against the NCAA and EA as a direct violation of a long-standing policy at NCAA that members may not publicize or benefit from their likeness. The lawsuit alleges that the NCAA did profit from the games, which used either the likeness or name of the college-level players. NCAA Denies Allegations The NCAA denied the allegations that they authorized the use of names or likenesses of any collegiate level players. However, insiders indicate that the video games allow them to reach a younger demographic, and emails found by ESPN show that some involved in the process felt that including the actual names on jerseys in the game would be a “huge win” for the NCAA and EA. Antitrust Lawsuit The antitrust lawsuit, according to the players, alleges that the names and likenesses were used without their permission, and that they were prohibited from profiting from or negotiating the use of the likenesses in the games. According to the players, in 2008, Myles Brand, who was then president of the NCAA agreed that the “right to sell one’s name, image, and likeness is a property right with economic value.” However, EA lobbied for and obtained the ability to use those names, images and likenesses without offering compensation to the players. For college athletes, the ability to protect their name, image and likeness is critical, and their rights are protected under the law. If you or someone you love has been affected by the NCAA’s authorization to allow EA to use your likeness, contact Dallas-Fort Worth lawyers at Frenkel & Frenkel for a free consultation today to learn what rights are available.