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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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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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