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Pro Athletes Demand Payment from Daily Fantasy Sites

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Pierre Garcon is a very talented football player and makes a substantial amount of money for being good at football. FanDuel is a quasi-legal gambling website and makes an even more substantial amount of money based on Garcon being good at football. FanDuel doesn't share any of the substantial amount of money it makes based on Garcon's performance with Garcon and Garcon is not too happy about it.

So Garcon has sued FanDuel on behalf of himself and other NFL players, claiming the daily fantasy site is profiting from the players' names and popularity without compensating the players. So does he have a case?

Who Owns What?

Pro athletes have been getting more protective of their names and images, and Garcon's suit is only the latest attempt to secure compensation for unauthorized use. He released a statement regarding the lawsuit:

"I am bringing this lawsuit against FanDuel for using my name, image, and likeness in both daily fantasy contests and through advertising on TV ads and infomercials. FanDuel has taken the liberty to engage in these actions without my consent and without proper licensing rights. As a result of these activities, FanDuel daily fantasy contests have shown increasing revenues leading to large profits. Therefore, on behalf of myself as well as any other players who are being treated unjustly, I chose to file a complaint."

FanDuel says the "suit is without merit," and that "fantasy operators may use player names and statistics for fantasy contests." Which is somewhat true, but this case may depend on what FanDuel is using, where they are using it, and why.

And Can Make Money off of Whom?

Garcon's stats, in and of themselves, aren't subject to copyright claims. At least, that's what a federal court said when it found that Motorola wasn't infringing on the NBA's copyright by sending up-to-date stats to its SportsTrax pagers. However, if Garcon can demonstrate that FanDuel isn't just passing on information and is monetizing his stats in a way that Motorola wasn't, he may have a point.

Garcon probably has a better case regarding FanDuel's marketing campaign. The NFL Players Association signed a licensing agreement with rival daily fantasy site DraftKings, but not with FanDuel. So if FanDuel is using players' images to sell the site, without permission or compensation, they'll probably have a problem.

And they'll have to add that one to a long list of legal concerns from fan lawsuits to congressional investigations.

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