Judge: EA Can Profit from College Players' Likeness

Judge: EA Can Profit from College Players' Likeness

Ryan Hart from Rutgers
Ryan Hart from Rutgers

A Federal judge ruled that EA owes no compensation to former college players for using their likeness in NCAA Football games.

Sports games based on professional sports usually have agreements in place with player's associations so that the athletes receive some compensation for their names and likenesses to appear. Games depicting college sports, the most common example is EA Sports NCAA Football series, have no such agreement with players because it is against NCAA rules for them to profit from participating in sports. That's why NCAA Football doesn't use real names, but EA still shows the player's uniform number and a general likeness to players including height, weight, hair color, complexion as well as biographical details like high school.

In 2010, former Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart sued EA for using these details in the game - including his appearance and signature left wristband - but his claim was dismissed by Judge Freda Wolfson of the New Jersey District Court in Trenton. In that ruling, Judge Wolfson allowed Hart to resubmit his complaint with a different wording. Unfortunately for Hart, his second submission was also dismissed by Wolfson today.

The ruling states that the First Amendment rights of EA Sports to make a game is more important than Ryan Hart's control of his likeness. With the Supreme Court ruling that games are just as protected by the First Amendment as books and movies in June, Wolfson had to uphold EA's rights.

Hart's lawyer Keith McKenna didn't have a comment on the dismissal, but EA was quick to gloat on the victory. This decision "validates Electronic Arts' rights to create and publish its expressive works," said Elizabeth McNamara.

I understand that Ryan Hart and other former college athletes like Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller are a little miffed that they will never receive compensation for kids being able to play as them in NCAA Football, but I think that's just part of the deal with being a college athlete. It must doubly sting for those players who, for whatever reason, were unable to excel at the professional level, but the alternative is much worse.

Not only would we be forced to download roster updates with the real players names, but we'd have to mod each player's likeness manually to match your favorite team's roster. That's just too much work.

Source: Gamasutra

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Most High Profile college athletes get paid to play, it called scholarships. Instead of the money going to the individual, it goes to the NCAA, which in turn gives out more scholarships(not just to football, but other sports as well.) This allows more people to go to college. I know it is their likeness, but wanting the money for yourself instead of helping others is a little selfish.

Could someone explain to me how EA can get away with using likenesses in NCAA games but can't with Madden games? Wouldn't the same "First Amendment rights of EA Sports to make a game" get them around there as well, according to this ruling?

They already have previous legal agreements for those, so I don't think that would fly.

Not sure about future ones though.

Of course, this also brings into question the use of likenesses for ALL games, so we'll see how this pans out. Hopefully we get our MJ zombies back in our PvZ games. :P

(I still have the old version of it without those changes.)

I love minor league football...Major corporations can cash in billions of dollars off of players, but the second the players get a cent in compensation they get in massive trouble.

weirdguy:
Hopefully we get our MJ zombies back in our PvZ games. :P

(I still have the old version of it without those changes.)

Same, yay for not steam.

OT: they got to go to college without being good at anything but sports, that's their compensation

Yeah, sorry if i dont feel so bad for them after all the turrel Pryor stuff. Apparantly you can go ahead and make money, and if you dont want to miss five games of college, you can just cut out to the draft and make even MORE money, while people defend your right to play week one instead of a five game suspension.

I don't give a crap about football, EA Sports, or any game that depicts acts of football, but I really don't like what this case symbolizes... basically, we now have precedent for companies to use anyone's likeness without giving them proper compensation.

emeraldrafael:
Yeah, sorry if i dont feel so bad for them after all the turrel Pryor stuff. Apparantly you can go ahead and make money, and if you dont want to miss five games of college, you can just cut out to the draft and make even MORE money, while people defend your right to play week one instead of a five game suspension.

Here's a question, why shouldn't he be able to play week 1 in the NFL? He was suspended for violation of NCAA rules, not NFL rules, nor did he break the law, so what's the issue?

Sutter Cane:

emeraldrafael:
Yeah, sorry if i dont feel so bad for them after all the turrel Pryor stuff. Apparantly you can go ahead and make money, and if you dont want to miss five games of college, you can just cut out to the draft and make even MORE money, while people defend your right to play week one instead of a five game suspension.

Here's a question, why shouldn't he be able to play week 1 in the NFL? He was suspended for violation of NCAA rules, not NFL rules, nor did he break the law, so what's the issue?

i dont know, why was big ben suspended for four games when he wasnt even charged with a crime, while other men get the pass?

personally i dont care anyway. the guy was always a dick growing up in highschool, and especialy after he got that number one rank.

DaxStrife:
I don't give a crap about football, EA Sports, or any game that depicts acts of football, but I really don't like what this case symbolizes... basically, we now have precedent for companies to use anyone's likeness without giving them proper compensation.

No it doesn't. It gives them the right to use the likeness of people who have signed a contract stating they aren't allowed to earn money.

Sure it comes across as a little shady, but they aren't going to be stealing the likenesses of me and you (well, unless you're a college footballer I guess) any time soon.

I remember (back in the day before Madden was big) the names of my NFL team players were replaced with local street names. They had the real life players numbers, positions, skin color, but that's about it. What's sad is that I didn't realize this till years later when I got my drivers license.

College athletes cannot make money off of any endorsements, but it is nice to be able to see their likeness. Do the characters every really look like the real athletes tho? I haven't played or seen the last few Madden or NCAA games. They try, but never have really succeeded last I saw.

emeraldrafael:

Sutter Cane:

emeraldrafael:
Yeah, sorry if i dont feel so bad for them after all the turrel Pryor stuff. Apparantly you can go ahead and make money, and if you dont want to miss five games of college, you can just cut out to the draft and make even MORE money, while people defend your right to play week one instead of a five game suspension.

Here's a question, why shouldn't he be able to play week 1 in the NFL? He was suspended for violation of NCAA rules, not NFL rules, nor did he break the law, so what's the issue?

i dont know, why was big ben suspended for four games when he wasnt even charged with a crime, while other men get the pass?

personally i dont care anyway. the guy was always a dick growing up in highschool, and especialy after he got that number one rank.

dunno. i guess the real thing is just that Roger Goodell is a bad commissioner

Sutter Cane:

emeraldrafael:

Sutter Cane:

Here's a question, why shouldn't he be able to play week 1 in the NFL? He was suspended for violation of NCAA rules, not NFL rules, nor did he break the law, so what's the issue?

i dont know, why was big ben suspended for four games when he wasnt even charged with a crime, while other men get the pass?

personally i dont care anyway. the guy was always a dick growing up in highschool, and especialy after he got that number one rank.

dunno. i guess the real thing is just that Roger Goodell is a bad commissioner

yeah, thats a good way to sum it up.

Is this being appealed more?

Honestly football players get so many perks over regular students at university, they should not coplain about something like that. Sure they don't technically get paid, but it is easier for them to get jobs (at my school most local bars hire only football players for bouncers) and most of them don't take a full course load. Most people don't agree but sport and university should be separate. That way students there for just studying don't have to deal with athletes getting all the extra perks at university and the regular paying student gets shafted.

That way to, then athletes could focus more on their goals of being a professional athlete. To bad that will never happen because schools make to much money off them.

"The ruling states that the First Amendment rights of EA Sports to make a game is more important than Ryan Hart's control of his likeness. With the Supreme Court ruling that games are just as protected by the First Amendment as books and movies in June, Wolfson had to uphold EA's rights."

So the same right that allows movies to have real people depicted also protects games for doing the same thing? This seems pretty cut and dried then.....

I am assuming that no money was paid to Bush for the 'W' movie. Same thing here isn't it?

ph0b0s123:

I am assuming that no money was paid to Bush for the 'W' movie. Same thing here isn't it?

Public figures have always been an exemption to such rules. Typically whatever governments do is considered public domain, and politicians themselves then too are open to such openness, though there have been motions to change that in recent years.

And in the case of satire you could always imitate likenesses.

Must. Resist. South Park Reference...

OT: Ok seriously,this is just a dick move,they are college students for crying out loud. They have things they need to pay for and some compensation for having their likeness used would be very helpful to that cause. But EA just loves bad decision making,see also: Every marketing campaign since Dante's Inferno

Keep pimping those students out... Student athletes are cash cows for the institutions around them.

Jumwa:

ph0b0s123:

I am assuming that no money was paid to Bush for the 'W' movie. Same thing here isn't it?

Public figures have always been an exemption to such rules. Typically whatever governments do is considered public domain, and politicians themselves then too are open to such openness, though there have been motions to change that in recent years.

And in the case of satire you could always imitate likenesses.

Um no, parody and "current" political commentary are protected under the fair use clause, most of satire is not protected.

Baldr:
Most High Profile college athletes get paid to play, it called scholarships. Instead of the money going to the individual, it goes to the NCAA, which in turn gives out more scholarships(not just to football, but other sports as well.) This allows more people to go to college. I know it is their likeness, but wanting the money for yourself instead of helping others is a little selfish.

Seeing as how the vast majority of the football stars take bullshit classes for a bullshit degree with likely answer correctness leniency, I'm pretty sure they're not benefiting much from that scholarship. I want to see the players group up and say:

"Nah, we don't need your scholarship. We'll pay our own tuition with all the money we'll make playing football. What's that? You won't let anyone play if they're making money? I guess you don't have a season then!"

These people work at their sport as hard as the professionals and they get dick for it. Let's pretend for a second that it's a ridiculous number like $50,000 a year for tuition. Throughout their 4 years they received $200,000 worth of compensation. The people warming the bench in the NFL make more that that. There's a gross inequality.

And if you are are selfless, go bust your ass for hours working out until you puke and then get manhandled by some 400 pound dude named Jamal on the green. Make sure you donate your paycheck when you're done!

Micalas:

And if you are are selfless, go bust your ass for hours working out until you puke and then get manhandled by some 400 pound dude named Jamal on the green. Make sure you donate your paycheck when you're done!

I wish I could, but whatever money I have that I don't depend on for necessities I use to pay off my $100,000 in student loans.

Sports should be removed from schools thats high school and college. The NFL, NBA and their liknesses should pay for the development of their talent themselves through junior competions that arn't funded by local tax payers. The NFL should especially because outside the USA their sport doesn't matter at all.

If you want an example how that can be achieved look at soccer world wide. Or a sport that has similar localised intrest try Hurling in Ireland.

While yes I'm sure there are collages that make a profit off their sports programs I don't think it's nearly as wide spread as certain parties with an interest in keeping the status quo would have you believe. On top of hat I'm yet to hear of a high school turning a profit from being the ground zero of training these future profesional athletes.

As to the arguement that it allows people who wouldn't normally get to go to collage into one. What do they do to take advantage of this oppitunity? They take business or communication degrees for the most part. Two degrees which are practicly useless and why it seems most reired lesser known professonal atheletes end up either in local broardcasting as sports commentators or trading off their name as some kind of insurance or used car businessmen. The numbers of athletic doctors and engineers can be counted off without taking off your shoes. You know the kind of educated people any country need to move forward.

Long story short the whole "student athelete" thing is broken and just another example of the taxpayer supporting people who don't need support.

Alphakirby:
Must. Resist. South Park Reference...

It's funny because if everyone had 100% control of their likeness, South Park is the second to go down, quickly after Family Guy.

In today's news, a U.S. Federal Judge ruled in favor of a large corporation.

Reaction described as "dull surprise".

Not surprised even a bit. Though this just fuels my rage for the destruction of EA. If we were in high school, I'd kick the shit out of EA for being a snobby rich kid that thinks it's above everyone else. The video games is art shit drops to me as soon as you consider a game a sports simulator. If you're making money off of the collective of thousands of different college students every year, you should at least have to pay some form of royalties. Especially when you strong arm every other game studio out of competition.

I also like how it's called "Expressive works" as if literally copying a roster and adding on to an already established game engine is being "expressive" in some way. I think it sounds more like emulation works, or the ability to copy reality to me.

Then again, perhaps I'm biased because I want EA to go away as a publisher. I wish more companies had the finances to successfully publish their own games, so less greedy publishers manipulated good developers and their games.

 

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