Haven't I seen you in a video game? Aspen Photo/Shutterstock.com
The suit was filed by 15 former and current athletes who claim their identities were used illegally by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and games manufacturer Electronic Arts.
Lawyers for the students allege that the defendants violated competition legislation by requiring the students to sign a contract that grants the NCAA the rights to their names, images and likenesses, the newspaper USA Today reports. The NCAA was then free to licence the students’ identities to apparel sales and video games, the claimants maintain.
According to a survey of 150 top-tier universities, a dozen confirmed they ‘engage in the sale of licensed products bearing a current student-athlete’s individual likeness’. The claimants submitted to the court a 2003 e-mail in which NCAA’s associate director of brand management Peter Davis was informed by a representative for Electronic Arts that the company does use current students’ attributes and jersey numbers, but not their names.
‘Although we haven’t reviewed all of the documents, it appears the plaintiffs again are trying to make their case on likeness,’ said NCAA spokesman Bob Williams. ‘Discovery and the plaintiffs’ own depositions clearly indicate that the NCAA never marketed student-athlete likeness nor prohibited student-athletes from profiting from their likeness when their eligibility was completed.’