Court OKs Football Players’ Lawsuit Against EA Over Madden
The judicial system is letting a group of former NFL players file a lawsuit against Electronic Arts over the use of their images and likenesses in the Madden NFL series.
ESPN reports the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and a district court have declined Electronic Arts' tries to get a lawsuit filed against it by former NFL players thrown out. The Court of Appeals declined Electronic Arts appeals by saying that EA wouldn't win the argument that the players' likenesses were merely incidental.
"We hold EA's use of the former players' likenesses is not incidental because it is central to EA's main commercial purpose -- to create a realistic virtual simulation of football games involving current and former NFL teams," Circuit Judge Raymond Fisher said. "Like NCAA Football, Madden NFL replicates players' physical characteristics and allows users to manipulate them in the performance of the same activity for which they are known in real life -- playing football for an NFL team."
Former LA Rams QB Vince Ferragamo and other past NFL players filed the lawsuit against EA due to the Madden series using their likenesses without their permission.
"We believe in the First Amendment right to create expressive works -- in any form -- that relate to real-life people and events, and will seek further court review to protect it," an EA spokesperson said.
In 2013, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against EA again in a lawsuit by former Arizona State QB Sam Keller over the same type of ordeal. EA then agreed to a $40 million settlement for Keller and other former collegiate athletes featured in its games.