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EA to pay NCAA players up to $40 million for unauthorised likeness use

College sports players successfully sue publisher

Electronic Arts has lost its five-year legal battle over likeness rights with former NCAA players.

A class action lawsuit was originally filed against the publisher in 2009, with former college basketball and American football players complaining that their likenesses were being used without their permission.


EA attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed at the time, claiming it was within its first amendment rights to use vague in-game representations of the athletes.

However, the court claimed the similarities were too great to be ignored, and ordered the lawsuit to continue.

Now Gamasutra reports this lawsuit has finally reached a conclusion, with a settlement decided between both parties.

As per the terms of the settlement, EA will pay each former NCAA member up to $951 for each year they were featured in either an NCAA Football, NCAA March Madness or NCAA Basketball game.

This means the total payout from EA may cost the company around $40 million in total.

This is only the first of three lawsuits regarding this incident, however. The former NCAA players are also suing the NCAA itself for allegedly turning a blind eye to EA's infringement and allowing the publisher to proceed with the likenesses.

Meanwhile, the NCAA is suing EA for 'breach of contract', claiming it "did not maintain liability insurance that was sufficient to cover pending third-party claims".