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In May 5, 2009, Sam Keller, a former quarterback at Arizona State and Nebraska University, filed a complaint against Electronic Arts (EA Sports), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) for using his likeness. Keller is bringing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all NCAA athletes for the “blatant and unlawful use” of student-athlete likenesses in video games.
EA Sports has created a long line of profitable games, some of which are based on NCAA sports, including: NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball, and NCAA March Madness. For EA Sports games based on professional sports, Electronic Arts bargains with the players’ association for a license to use player names and their likeness. For example, if EA Sports would like to use player names and their likeness on Madden 2010, the NFLPA can, and have, assigned those rights to Electronic Arts for roughly $35 million per year, according to Keller’s complaint. EA pays the NFLPA a fee, the players obtain a royalty through the NFLPA, and their likenesses and names are used in the games. In its repertoire of games based on NCAA sports, EA Sports does not use the athletes’ names nor does it bargain with the NCAA and the CLC to use such. Additionally, EA Sports claims that the player’s likenesses are not being used.