Sanctions Upheld in NCAA Image Rights Case

     OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – College athletes cannot subpoena confidential documents in the ongoing litigation over student-athlete name and likeness licensing, a federal judge ruled.
     The Thursday ruling upholds pretrial orders issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins on Feb. 27, 2012, and Aug. 7, 2012, that sanctioned the athletes for having requested document from three nonparties: the Big Ten Conference, the Big Ten Network and Fox Broadcasting Co.
     Denying relief from those sanctions, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken said that the magistrate judge’s “orders are not clearly erroneous or contrary to law.”
     The class action in question is a consolidation of cases that former student-athletes brought against the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Electronic Arts Inc. and the Collegiate Licensing Co., objecting to the commercial use of their likenesses, images and names.
     Cousins had found that the athletes’ document requests were “substantially overly broad” and that the athletes had failed to narrow their requests or compromise in order to make the subpoenas less burdensome on Big Ten and Fox Broadcasting.
     Wilkens concluded that Cousins “did not simply impose sanctions because the subpoenas were ultimately found to be partially unwarranted.”
     “Instead, he made specific findings that antitrust plaintiffs failed to take reasonable measures to prevent the undue burden caused by the overly broad aspects of their request,” Wilkens continued. “In addition, that the magistrate judge found that some of the documents requested were relevant and rejected certain objections made by the nonparties does not mean the document requests as made were narrowly tailored and not unduly burdensome.”

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