Sunday, August 8, 2010
6,000 Former NFL Players File Suit Against EA
Several thousand former National Football League players have filed a class-action lawsuit against Electronic Arts, claiming that the company has engaged in the “commercial exploitation” of using their likenesses in Madden NFL videogames without permission or due compensation.
Calling EA’s actions “blatant and prolific,” the lawsuit, which was filed last week with the US District Court of Northern California, alleges that recent iterations of the best-selling Madden NFL franchise have appropriated former players’ attributes to a nearly identical degree and that, in many cases, have made “trivial changes” in players’ profiles in order to skirt licensing requirements from the NFL Players Association. “These changes reflect a calculated and underhanded attempt to avoid having to pay any license or royalty,” the suit contends. “In this way, EA has exploited the retired players by using their valuable likenesses and publicity rights.”
The suit names former running back Tony Davis, who played six seasons in the NFL in the late ’70s and early ’80s, as the plaintiff, and seeks punitive damages based on all profits made from Madden games sold from July 29, 2008 to the present.
Although the suit does not specifically mention John Madden – the Hall of Fame coach and former broadcaster upon whose name the series is based – this sort of legal wrangling, depending on how far it progresses, has the potential to tarnish what has become one of the biggest success stories in videogame-publishing history. Indeed, more than just the sheer enjoyment that the games have provided to fans or the billions they have made for EA, the Madden NFL franchise has also evolved into a tool that players themselves have used to enhance their play on the gridiron.
EA has not publicly commented on the legal proceedings.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rob Carr