Entertainment & Sports Law

College Sports Stars Sue Over Video Games with Look-Alike Players


Two well-known college quarterbacks have filed lawsuits that claim a video game maker is improperly profiting from digital players that resemble themselves.

One suit filed this spring by Sam Keller claims a quarterback in a 2005 video game by Electronic Arts featured a player with his same jersey number, build, skin tone, hair color, home state and playing style, the New York Times reports. Keller played for Arizona State at the time. The action names Electronic Arts and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which has a licensing agreement with Electronic Arts that allows it to sell video games based on NCAA football and basketball themes.

Former Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart filed a similar suit against Electronic Arts earlier this week, the story says.

Keller’s lawyer, Robert Carey, told the newspaper that college athletes could be paid in a way that does not jeopardize their amateur status. For example, royalty payments could be placed in trust.

Legal experts told the Times that the game maker may have violated the athletes’ right of publicity. In a similar suit, Vanna White successfully sued Samsung over an ad that featured a robot that resembled her.

The NCAA said in a statement that the suits are without merit and the video games don’t violate NCAA rules.

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