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EA's NCAA case leads to landmark decision on player likenesses
EA's NCAA case leads to landmark decision on player likenesses
August 8, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

EA has been embroiled -- along with the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) and the Collegiate Licensing Corporation which controls its licensing rights -- in lawsuits brought by former student athletes who appeared in its popular college sports games.

Now, federal judge Claudia Wilken has ruled that the athletic organization is violating antitrust law by not allowing student athletes to be paid for the use of their likenesses and identities.

This is a huge decision for college athletics, though for its part, EA has already settled this case, which was originally filed in 2009.

It's a complicated case; Judge Wilken's decision weighs in at 99 pages [PDF]. For its part, the NCAA is none too pleased, but has released only a short statement, which reads in part: "We disagree with the Court's decision that NCAA rules violate antitrust laws." However, there's some good news for the NCAA: The organization will be able to set a cap on what schools pay players -- as long as those in its most popular leagues get at least $5,000 a year.

What is not clear is whether this paves the road for EA's NCAA sports franchises to re-emerge. The company suspended development of its NCAA Football series in 2013 thanks to the lawsuit (development of NCAA Basketball had ceased after 2009.) The NCAA and EA severed ties last year amidst the lawsuits. In fact, the NCAA itself had sued EA -- but dropped that suit when it settled with the players, for $20 million, alongside EA's payment of $40 million.

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