I have written about six or seven lawsuits that Electronic Arts has faced over the last year or so, but this one is a bit intriguing to me. It centers on former college athletes that are suing EA and the NCAA over using their likenesses in video games (like NCAA Football
and NCAA Basketball
) without their consent. The folks at USA Today have a good write up
on the lawsuit and a response from EA on the amount of settlement that it may generate should the publishing giant ultimately lose the case.
However, I think this one may be sunk before it even gets going. When a student athlete inks on the dotted line for a free education in exchange for their athletic prowess, I am almost certain they also sign over to the university and NCAA the ability to use that student athletes likeness for promotional material, advertising and probably a whole host of things. There is also the question of what constitutes a “likeness”, as using the name and number on a jersey, but not using facial scanning may also invalidate the suit.
While I doubt that EA would be expected to fork over $1 Billion to every student athlete that ever appeared in an NCAA football or Basketball game since 2007, I think his will be a fun suit to follow. EA could be dealing with just another frivolous suit, or they could be on the verge of having their status as sports giant pulled out from under them.