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EA and NCAA Slammed in Landmark Case Regarding Student Likenesses

by Ron Duwell | August 11, 2014August 11, 2014 8:30 pm PST

NCAA Football 14

The NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Corporation took a major hit this week when Federal Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that they violated antitrust laws for licensing out students’ likenesses in EA video games without their consent.

The lawsuit was filed in 2009 by disgruntled students who felt it was unfair for the organizations to profit off of their images in video games without being compensated. Judge Wilken agreed, but took 99 pages of type to explain her decision on the tough case. The NCAA will be able to put a cap on what schools must pay students for their likeness, but major college schools must at least pay $5,000.

The NCAA issued a brief statement, simply stating it disagreed with the decision.

“We disagree with the Court’s decision that NCAA rules violate antitrust laws. We note that the Court’s decision sets limits on compensation, but are reviewing the full decision and will provide further comment later. As evidenced by yesterday’s Board of Directors action, the NCAA is committed to fully supporting student-athletes.”

As for EA, the company settled its end of the case for $40 million back in June, and the popular NCAA Football series has been indefinitely canceled. It is unknown if it plans to continue now that the legal complications surrounding the series are clearing up, but chances are colleges might not want to participate for fear of retaliation or not wanting to pay their students.

It’s a tough case. The NCAA makes a lot of money off the likenesses of students, but much of that money is used for putting on major sporting events and giving exposure to college athletes looking for a career. At the same time, the oversight and extent of control it exercises over students while under its umbrella is often excessive, especially if they decide to branch out into other possible careers like music or acting.

Student athletes also get far more financial aid and scholarships than non-athletic students, meaning their compensation comes through cheap or even free college. Is earning more for appearing in a video game logical? You tell us.


Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...