Tag Archives: NCAA

NCAA Ordered to Talk Settlement in O’Bannon Case; Eventual Resolution Will Determine Future of College Sports Video Games

Last week the judge in the Ed O’Bannon class-action case vs the NCAA ordered the two sides to enter settlement talks. Naturally questions have started to come in about whether this could accelerate a return of college football (and other sports) video games.

There is no longer a video game element to the case – although Sam Keller has continued to argue that he was not a part of the earlier settlement that got Electronic Arts and Collegiate Licensing Company out of it. A conclusion to litigation that would provide an outline for players to be paid (whether from share of broadcasting rights, personal endorsements, and/or merchandising) could open the possibility of video games back up. 

It’s very unlikely that a settlement will be reached which would mean the case proceeding through the lengthy process that with appeals could be five years away from a conclusion. There is no requirement that the sides attempt to reach one in good faith – just that they attend the required mediation. Even if a the two sides came to a settlement the specific terms would be critical.

EA could manage paying collegiate athletes $50-$100 a season. That’s essentially what they did with the $40 million settlement. With NCAA Football establishing a successful Ultimate Team mode they could afford additional costs especially when being able to promote real players officially in the game would likely increase sales of the product. Going much higher than that though, or having a system where players negotiate their own appearance fees, could make it more difficult to financially justify.

Earlier/Summary Below

The player likeness lawsuit against the NCAA, CLC, and Electronic Arts is the culmination of two high profile filings that were combined as led by Sam Keller and Ed O’Bannon (and O’Bannon now heads it up). It alleges improper use of player likeness through various forms of merchandise and media including video games in which the parties in question conspired to avoid paying players for their rights. Some interesting details and claims regarding the case at hand were revealed when EA was reentered as a defendant after initially being dismissed.

EA originally won a previous case regarding player likeness with the courts ruling video games are artistic works rather than commercial speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court in 2011 established forms of media, producing expressive works of art, are not subject to judgments based on incorporating someone’s name or likeness. That dismissed case however, involving Ryan Hart, has resurfaced after an appeals court reversed a decision based on that argument.

Recent uncovered emails have shown that NCAA representatives were well aware that players in games were based off real-life players. At one point the NCAA and EA had nearly reached an agreement to have actual player names included in the products. The EA Locker / Roster Share feature was a fallback option. With momentum clearly on the plantiffs’ side NCAA reps have begun to publicly express concern over the future of collegiate sports. A former EA Sports producer admitted players in NCAA games were based off real athletes.

The discovery of Tim Tebow’s name being in NCAA Football 10 could throw another wrench into EA’s series of arguments. Depositions from former Alabama wide receiver Tyrone Prothro and UConn basketball guard Tate George support the defendant’s reasoning for denying class action certification. The class action hearing resulted in the judge heavily questioning the legitimacy of a potential class and insisting a current athlete be involved. The judge required current athletes be added as plaintiffs for that party to have representation if the case is certified as class action. Six current college football players were added as plaintiffs in mid-July.

EA is now arguing to be dismissed as a defendant in the suit. A major defense for the company however was recently struck down by an appeals court.

This consolidated case in California if certified as class action would go to trial – barring a settlement – and ultimately be the determining factor of how the NCAA proceeds in the future handling broadcasting rights, merchandising, and video games. Should a negative result come down, which one analyst has pegged as being a potential loss of $1 billion for EA, it would likely not just end the NCAA Football series but also with it any realistic possibility of college sports games being made in the future. The trial now is slated to begin June 9, 2014. Appeals following a decision could extend the fight through 2020.

[RESOLUTION] EA and the CLC have settled the lawsuit. EA Sports will no longer produce a college football game. Getting out of the lawsuit only cost EA and CLC $40 million.

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EA Sports Cancels NCAA Football Series

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EA Sports has officially canceled their NCAA Football series which was going to be renamed College Football next year. The news comes on the heels of individual institutions expressing a desire to get out of the video game business by pulling their licenses. The NCAA was first to withdraw licensing, multiple conferences followed, but losing the schools was when EA began to see the writing on the wall that the series would not be sustainable. Also announced today is that EA settled in the player likeness lawsuit as well.

NCAA Football 13 Playbook #4 – Heisman Challenge Dev Blog

What’s going on NCAA fans? Hard to believe the football season is not far away! I know most of you are starting to get the college football “itch”, well we have been feeling that way ever since ‘Bama took the title again! This year we’re trying to scratch that itch with a brand new mode in NCAA Football 13and it’s called the Heisman Challenge.

Now, to be honest, before I started working on Heisman Challenge I never realized how absolutely amazing some of these guys’ Heisman winning seasons were. Take for instance, Ohio State’s Eddie George.  This incredible running machine averaged 150 yards rushing a game. Archie Griffin? He only rushed for 5,589 yards on 924 carries in his career.  Oh yeah…did I mention he took home the Heisman hardware two times?

So for starters, let’s cover the basics. What is this Heisman thing and why should you care about it? Continue reading NCAA Football 13 Playbook #4 – Heisman Challenge Dev Blog

Ex-Celtics Star Bill Russell Sues NCAA, Electronic Arts Over Image Use

William “Bill” Russell, former star center for the National Basketball Association’s Boston Celtics, accused the National Collegiate Athletic Association of using his likeness from his college playing days without paying him or seeking his consent.

The complaint is the latest to claim the NCAA violates federal antitrust laws by keeping former student basketball and football athletes from receiving compensation for the commercial use of their images and likenesses. The association has denied wrongdoing in those cases.

Electronic Arts Inc., the second-largest U.S. video-game maker, is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, filed yesterday in federal court in Oakland, California. Russell accuses it of using his image in a “Tournament of Legends” feature on an NCAA basketball video game.

Russell, who led the University of San Francisco to NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956, said in the complaint that the association sells $150 videos of the team’s championship games. At least 54 clips featuring him are available through the website of the NCAA’s for-profit business partner and photos of him through an NCAA online store, according to the complaint.

Russell, 77, is seeking a court order blocking further sale of the videos and video games, plus disgorgement of profits from them and unspecified damages.

Post-College Endorsements

The NCAA owns and licenses the copyright on the NCAA games cited in the complaint, said Donald Remy, the association’s general counsel. The NCAA doesn’t restrict athletes from profiting from their college accomplishments through post- college commercial endorsements and other ventures, he said in an e-mail today.

“Mr. Russell, like the thousands of other student-athletes who played the game, can capitalize on his likeness, reputation, athletic and academic successes as a student-athlete after college,” the e-mail said. Continue reading Ex-Celtics Star Bill Russell Sues NCAA, Electronic Arts Over Image Use

EA Could Loose Upwards TO $1 Billion Dollars In College Athlete Lawsuit

By: Darren Rovell
CNBC Sports Business Reporter

A class action lawsuit filed by former college athletes against the NCAA and Electronic Arts [ERTS  21.34    0.13  (+0.61%)   ] could take a huge bite out of the video game maker’s revenues, should the athletes win the case.

A California District Court judge recently denied Electronic Arts’ motion to dismiss the combined case filed by former Nebraska and Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller and former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon.

AP
Electronic Arts Headquarters, Redwood City, California

The case centers on whether licensees like EA unlawfully used athletes’ likenesses without their consent. The case is already two years old and there’s plenty more to go, but if the judge eventually rules that EA did in fact violate the players’ intellectual property rights, there could be huge financial damages.

EA has not specifically disclosed any numbers related to the lawsuit to its shareholders, but the damages they could have to pay might be as much as $1 billion, which equals 25 percent of its annual revenue. EA spokesman David Tinson declined to comment on any details about disclosures related to the case.

Continue reading EA Could Loose Upwards TO $1 Billion Dollars In College Athlete Lawsuit