Ex-NCAA athletes prevail in lawsuit over EA video games

July 31 Wed Jul 31, 2013 12:02pm EDT

July 31 (Reuters) - A divided U.S. federal appeals court has ruled against Electronic Arts Inc in a lawsuit by former collegiate athletes who accuse the company of using their images in video games without permission.

By a 2-1 vote, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said EA had no First Amendment defense against former football and basketball players, including onetime Arizona State University quarterback Samuel Keller, over the use of their images in its NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball video games.

The majority said EA "literally recreates Keller in the very setting in which he has achieved renown," and therefore violated his right of publicity.

In a separate decision, the 9th Circuit upheld the dismissal of Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown's lawsuit against EA over the use of his likeness in its Madden NFL video game.

It said Brown's likeness was "artistically relevant" to that game, and that there was no showing that EA explicitly misled consumers about his involvement with the game.

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