More Football Players -- Including Ex-Cal QB -- Sue EA Games Over Likenesses

U.C. Berkeley Media Relations
Appropriate Troy Taylor's likeness at your own peril
Last month we wrote about how a somewhat underachieving former Arizona State University and University of Nebraska quarterback named Sam Keller sued EA Games and the NCAA, alleging the videogame company is blatantly stealing players' likenesses and the body overseeing collegiate sports is enabling them.

Last week two more somewhat underachieving quarterbacks filed suit against EA in New Jersey arguing much the same: Former Rutgers slinger Ryan Hart and Troy Taylor -- a name very familiar to Bay Area pigskin fans. Taylor was Cal's starting quarterback from 1986-89, played a stint in the NFL with the New York Jets, coached at Cal in the 1990s and is currently the teams radio color man. Why Hart and Taylor -- of all the quarterbacks in all the gin joints in all the world -- are the ones throwing down a legal challenge to the massive Redwood Shores-based videogame company, well, you've got us. (Perhaps it has something to do with Jersey; Hart played his college ball there and the Jets, contrary to their New York moniker, host their games in East Rutherford). 

In any event Hart and Taylor claim that that's them QBing the Scarlet Knights and Jets in the EA games -- and they've never been contacted about it, let alone compensated. Why anyone would play the 2005 Rutgers squad or 1991 Jets on EA's football videogames -- again, you've got us.

Both former QBs claim EA invaded their privacy and also charge EA with unjust enrichment and unfair and unlawful business practices in violation of New Jersey's consumer fraud act (this is a charge that is dying for a Sopranos joke, but we'll take a pass).

The plaintiffs are seeking to force EA to obtain the authorization of the players it features in its games -- and they want compensation, of course. A number of SF Weekly commenters on the Sam Keller bemoaned the lawsuit and stated how enjoyable it is to play a game featuring not just one's favorite team, but that team's players -- who resemble the real individuals not only in likeness but in physical attributes.

This, argue the three QBs who've sued, proves their point. EA has made a fortune exploiting fans' desire to play games featuring "real" players -- allegedly without asking those players, let alone paying them.

Should these suits gain traction, it would threaten the very model of modern sports videogames. It'll be interesting to see how the ball bounces here.

H/T   |   Courthouse News

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