EA NCAA case ready to settle, athlete’s attorneys “extraordinarily pleased”

By Brenna Hillier, Friday, 27 September 2013 06:23 GMT

Although it must be approved in court, a settlement has been agreed upon by EA and a team of attorneys suing the publisher over the use of player likeness in the NCAA series.

The suit claims EA illegally used student athletes likenesses in the NCAA series, and the proposed settlement covers claims from the Keller and O’Bannon case and Alston and Hart cases. The terms and amount of the settlement are confidential until court approval, but lead attorney Steve Berman, of Hagens Herman, said the team is “extraordinarily pleased”.

“When we began this case in 2009, we were venturing into a new application of the law, with little precedent, while facing monumental legal hurdles,” he added.

“When we filed the case, we felt very strongly that EA’s appropriation of student-athletes’ images for a for-profit venture was wrong, both in a legal sense and from a more fundamental moral perspective. These guys were busting their butts on the field or the court trying to excel at athletics, oftentimes to help win or maintain scholarships so they could get an education.

“Students agreed that by being student-athletes that they could not exploit their personal commercial value, an agreement they lived up to. The same cannot be said about the NCAA or its partner Electronic Arts.”

EA agreed to try and settle after the US Court of Appeals rejected its move to dismiss. The case is now the province of the US District Court.

Now that EA has agreed to settle, the team of attorneys will focus on claims made against the NCAA, which it believes conspired with EA. In the past, attorney’s have said EA and the NCAA’s recent split, which has resulted in no new college football game from EA Sports next year, was a deliberate attempt to evade responsibility.

“We hold that the NCAA intentionally looked the other way while EA commercialized the likenesses of students, and it did so because it knew that EA’s financial success meant a bigger royalty check to the NCAA,” Berman said.

“We are looking forward to presenting our case against the NCAA to a jury at trial. We believe the facts will reveal a startling degree of complicity and profiteering on the backs of student athletes.”

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