SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – In a class action on behalf of college athletes, a former Arizona State quarterback says the Electronic Arts video game company and the NCAA conspired to use the identities of college athletes for gain, “despite clear prohibitions on the use of student names and likenesses in NCAA bylaws, contracts and licensing agreements.”
“Electronic Arts utilizes the likenesses of individual student-athletes in its NCAA basketball and football video games to increase sales and profits,” Samuel Keller says in his federal complaint. “Electronic Arts also intentionally circumvents the prohibitions on utilizing student athletes’ names in commercial ventures by allowing gamers to upload entire rosters, which include players’ names and other information, directly into the game in a matter of seconds. Rather than enforcing its own rules, the NCAA and its licensing arm, the [co-defendant] Collegiate Licensing Company (‘CLC’), have sanctioned Electronic Arts’ violations. In fact, the NCAA and the CLC have expressly investigated and approved Electronic Arts’ use of player names and likenesses. They have done so because Electronic Arts’ use of player names and likenesses benefits the NCAA and the CLC by increasing the popularity of the relevant games and thus the royalties that the NCAA and CLC can collect.
“This is a proposed class action on behalf of NCAA student-athletes whose likenesses and distinctive appearances have been used without their permission or consent, to increase revenues and profits for the defendants, and in violation of state law.”
Keller demands disgorgement, actual, statutory and punitive damages, an injunction, and destruction of the offending video games. He is represented by Shana Scarlett with Hagens Berman Sobol of Berkeley.