A federal judge on Monday threw out former college athletes' claims against EA Sports, regarding the use of their likeness in past versions of NCAA Football and the now canceled NCAA Basketball. While the ruling clears Electronic Arts in a legal sense, the claims still will proceed against the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company, and the outcome still could have ramifications for the popular sports video game.
Correction: An earlier version of this story referenced an incorrect case number in a separate but related matter.
Ed O'Bannon (pictured), a former UCLA basketball star, and others alleged EA Sports conspired with the NCAA and CLC to force athletes to sign away the rights to their likenesses in perpetuity. Judge Claudia Wilken of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, found that EA Sports had not engaged in any such conspiracy, and dismissed the claim against it.
Wilken, however, did not grant the NCAA and CLC's motions to dismiss the suit, which involves matters such as right to publicity and antitrust law. That case will proceed. For gamers, a ruling in their favor still could alter how the rosters in NCAA Football are populated. Some potential scenarios can be read here.
The finding essentially means EA Sports didn't do anything wrong in following the terms of the license set by the NCAA and CLC. But those who set the terms may have done so in a way that violated players' rights to the use of their likeness, in more than just video games.
Reached by Kotaku, a spokesman for Electronic Arts said that the company is pleased with the decision.
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