EA wins dismissal in NCAA lawsuit

Judge rules in favour of publisher on grounds of First Amendment protection

The lawsuit between Electronic Arts and former Rutgers University quarterback Ryan Hart has been been dismissed.

Hart accused the publisher of using his likeness without permission in its NCAA Football series, mimicking his physical attributes, uniform number and personal history for the nameless quarterback in Rutgers University's line-up.

However, according to Reuters, US District Judge Freda Wolfson ruled that EA's First Amendment rights outweighed Hart's right to control the use of his image.

In her ruling, Wolfson cited the ability to significantly modify the avatar's appearance, abilities and team as grounds for rejecting Hart's claim. She also mentioned that NCAA regulations prevent its players from entering licensing and commercial agreements.

Elizabeth McNamara, a lawyer for EA, claimed that the decision, "validates Electronic Arts' rights to create and publish its expressive works."

Hart's lawyer, Tim McIlwain, called the decision "a major disappointment," and insisted that EA, "engaged in the absolute taking of my client's persona."

"Millions of dollars are being made, and he's not getting his part of that pot. How is this allowed to happen?"

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Latest comments (2)

Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College8 years ago
1 vs. 100 springs to mind here. (Hart Vs. EA)

A likeness is one thing but a generic football player whose can be customisable? Plus the fact that as a NCAA player he has no channel or right to receive royalties as per their rules...

How did this even get to court?!
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Jeffrey Davis Freelance Writer 8 years ago
LOL!!! You're telling me...

But the important thing is that in the U.S. justice system, the right of people (and corporate America, of course) to have an opportunity to model anything (subject, beliefs or in this case a simulated athlete) to whatever standards they uphold individually is a fundamental public right when analyzed from a constitutional standpoint. So basically, EA is most certainly within the accuracy of the legal framework to do whatever the hell they intend to do in a sports simulation game, NCAA policies be damned. So yeah, go ahead and call it "persona taking" if you feel that way, but the overall game design (simulated players and everything else) is EA's call to make, no matter what anyone else says.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jeffrey Davis on 15th September 2011 3:40am

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