Former National Football League (NFL) players are taking on the video game company Electronic Arts (EA) for using their likenesses in its Madden NFL football video game series.
Former NFL quarterback Vince Ferragamo, who played professional football from 1977 through 1986, states that EA never asked his permission to use his likeness in the game. He represents one of four total plaintiffs.
EA attempted to have the lawsuit thrown out, but the 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals defended the former NFL players. EA had claimed that the First Amendment protected their right to use the players’ likenesses in the game, which uses current NFL rosters, as well as historic rosters. Furthermore, they argued that the use of these player’s avatars was too small a part of their overall success to warrant a lawsuit.
Why Did the Court Throw Out the Appeal by EA?
The court believes that EA did not change the likenesses of the players enough for it to be considered “works of art.” Many people claim, including EA, that the First Amendment protects creative expression in artwork, under the freedom of speech clause.
Despite the appeal rejection, it remains to be seen whether EA or the former NFL players will win this case.
Need to Protect Your Video Game Intellectual Property Rights?
The legal world of electronic gaming is very complex. From the coding, music, sounds, artwork, storyline, logos and other designs, there is so much intellectual property that must be protected from the abuse of other individuals or businesses. When selecting your attorney, make sure you select an experienced business litigator with a history of protecting the electronic gaming industry.
[Did You Know? EA faced a similar lawsuit in 2013 over the likeness of a former college football player used in a video game.]
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