News

EA And Student-Athletes Reach Preliminary Settlement In NCAA Likeness Case

by Kyle Hilliard on May 31, 2014 at 06:55 AM

Attorneys representing uncompensated student-athletes in the case brought against Electronic Arts over their likeness are saying they are ready to approve a settlement.

This means the student-athletes who appeared in Electronic Arts college sports games without any compensation could be getting some overdue paychecks. According to law firm Hagens Berman, who is representing the student-athletes, depending on how things pan out, each student-athlete could receive up to $951 for each year they appeared in a video game.

Attorney Steve W. Berman wrote in a press release about the settlement, “We’re incredibly pleased with the results of this settlement and the opportunity to right a huge wrong enacted by the NCAA and EA against these players and their rights of publicity. We’ve fought against intense legal hurdles since filing this case in 2009 and to see this case come to fruition is a certain victory.” You can also see a video message from Hagens Berman covering the settlement by heading here.

For more details on the lawsuit, head here. For the full press release, head to page two.

 

Our Take
These student-athletes certainly deserve some compensation for appearance in assorted Electronic Arts college sports video games. They helped to sell the games, most of which have been incredibly successful.

Hagens Berman Reaches Preliminary Approved Settlement with Electronic Arts in Likeness Case Settlement marks first time NCAA will pay student-athletes for likenesses

SEATTLE – Attorneys representing student-athletes who claim Electronic Arts (EA) (NASDAQ: EA) illegally used student-athletes’ likenesses in the company’s popular NCAA Football, Basketball, and March Madness videogames today filed a motion to approve a settlement that could mean thousands of dollars in settlement payments to affected players, according to Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro.

According to Steve W. Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and co-lead attorney, this is the first time in history that the NCAA’s commercial partners will reimburse student-athletes for using their likenesses.

The settlement covers claims made in the Keller and O’Bannon case against EA along with the Alston and Hart cases. Depending on the response and claims rates for the class, class members could receive up to $951 for each year they were featured in the videogame, according to the firm.

“We’re incredibly pleased with the results of this settlement and the opportunity to right a huge wrong enacted by the NCAA and EA against these players and their rights of publicity,” said Steve Berman.” “We’ve fought against intense legal hurdles since filing this case in 2009 and to see this case come to fruition is a certain victory.”

For additional comments from Steve Berman regarding the case, visit http://youtu.be/L94u7LwapfI.

Affected class members have been generally defined as NCAA football and basketball players listed on the roster of a school whose team was included in an NCAA Branded Videogame published or distributed during the period May 4, 2003 to the Preliminary Approval Date and whose assigned jersey number appears on a virtual player in the software, or whose photograph was otherwise included in the software.
EA, with the knowledge and consent of the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company, used student athletes’ names, images, and likenesses in NCAA branded videogames without compensation. 

The cases drew national attention because the case revolved, in part, on whether EA’s videogames and representations of the player-athletes were protected under the First Amendment.

Judge Claudia Wilken in the U.S. District Court for Northern California must grant preliminary approval of the settlement before ultimately approving the deal.

More information, including case documents is available at http://www.hbsslaw.com/cases-and-investigations/cases/ncaavideogames.