SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The NCAA and video game developer Electronic Arts misappropriate the images of college athletes to sell sports games, students claim in a federal class action.
The class claims Electronic Arts collaborated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association to use players’ images without their permission in Electronic Arts’ NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball and NCAA March Madness video game franchises.
Lead plaintiff and former University of North Carolina football player Bryon Bishop says EA’s NCAA Football 2008 and 2009 games include a player that wears his jersey number 76, and looks exactly like him, omitting nothing but his name.
Bishop says, “the initial omission of players’ names is of little consequence because EA has facilitated the simple upload of actual player names for all virtual players” through a design feature called “EA Locker.” With EA Locker, customers can upload college athlete rosters while logged onto the EA game.
The Collegiate Licensing Company is also named as a defendant.
According to the complaint, Collegiate Licensing Company president Pat Battle in 2004 sought reduced restrictions on licensing of player images, saying consumers demand realistic games, including complete replicas of players’ likenesses.
“‘A failure to keep up with technology and take full advantage of from a consumer standpoint may take the NCAA title less valuable,'” Battle said according to the complaint.
The class demands that all infringing video games that be seized and destroyed and that they be given all profits earned by the sale of these games, in addition to actual, statutory and punitive damages. They are represented by David Weinstein with Weinstein, Kitchenoff and Asher of Philadelphia.