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EA Sports Settles With College Athletes Over Use of Likenesses

By Brett Snider, Esq. on October 02, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

College athletes settled with video game giant EA Sports last week, leaving the NCAA the sole defendant in a lawsuit seeking payment for using college players' likenesses in EA Sports' video games.

The settlement comes just after EA Sports announced on its website that it would not publish a college football game in 2014, The New York Times reports.

This lawsuit will affect how hundreds of thousands of players are compensated for their likenesses, and the case is still not resolved.

EA Sports, CLC Settle

Two of the three parties to the college athlete lawsuit -- EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) -- settled a number of class action suits concerning players' likenesses on Thursday.

According to CBS Sports, this settlement will affect "more than 100,000 current and former college players" in basketball and football who have appeared in EA Sports' products, which debuted in 2003. ESPN reports that CLC and EA Sports will pay about $40 million to settle these suits.

The terms of the settlement are yet unreleased and will probably remain confidential. But it is very likely that in exchange for some amount of payment to each player, EA Sports would be released from any liability from using players' likenesses in games like "NCAA Football 13" or "NCAA March Madness 08."

A court will still need to sign off on the settlement, assuring that all parties have negotiated the terms in good faith.

Fight With NCAA Continues

Donald Remy, chief legal officer for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), told the Times that the NCAA had requested "but [had] not yet received" any terms of settlement in this likeness suit.

The federal courts have ruled in former college players' favor in the past on the issue of video game likenesses, and the NCAA will likely have to pay up for the current suits.

For players, their complaint isn't just that the NCAA signed off on EA Sports' use of players' likenesses in games -- which is essentially invasion of privacy -- but it's also that the players weren't being paid for it.

If the players take the NCAA to trial, the issue of profiting from players while they're still in school may finally face a jury.

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