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EA Heading to Court Over NFL Player Likeness Lawsuit

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Posted on April 2, 2012 AT 07:02am

THE BUZZ: EA is heading to court over a lawsuit brought against them by some 6,000 retired NFL players, after a judge has allowed the suit to proceed.

The suit claims that EA used the likenesses of the players in NFL 09′s historic teams without seeking permission first. The developer knowingly used the exact player stats from the time that they were active in the game including height and weight, but simply removed their names and swapped shirt numbers to avoid paying licensing fees.

Those invovled can easily identify which historic player they are in the game, and are suing EA for damages covering profits related to the use of their likenesses as well as attorney fees.

EGM’s TAKE: These players might have a case, you can’t use someone’s likeness in a game without seeking permissions first. EA believed it could avoid paying licensing fees on the players by leaving out direct reference to them (names and numbers), a shrewd move that probably saved them a fair bit of money. But will a judge or jury see it that way? This is an important suit that could determine how classic players are treated in the future. Is it okay to put a vague mask on them and use them without permission, or will companies have to pay? With the number of players involved it seems that the ultimate loser might be gamers who won’t get any classic players, named or not, in the future should EA be held responsible. After all, who’s going to want to hand out that many more checks.

Matthew Bennett, Associate Editor
Matthew Bennett finally got his big break with EGM three years ago, following years of volunteer work for various sites. An ability to go many hours without sleep and a quick wit make him ideal for his role as associate editor at EGMNOW.com. He often thinks back to the days when the very idea of this career seemed like nothing but an impossible dream. Follow him on Twitter @mattyjb89. Meet the rest of the crew.

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