A class action lawsuit filed by current and former college athletes against Electronic Arts and the National Collegiate Athletic Association will move forward, following a judge's decision this week to deny the defendants' motion for dismissal. Meanwhile, EA said it has no NCAA Basketball titles currently in development.
Sam Keller, former starting quarterback for Arizona State University and University of Nebraska, filed the class action suit against EA and the NCAA in May 2009, accusing the organizations of using college sports athletes' likenesses in video games without the permission of the players, and without compensation. The suit represents a group of current and former college athletes.
EA filed for a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming that it was within its legal rights under the First Amendment to use the in-game representations of college athletes.
Attorney for the plaintiffs Rob Carey, with law firm Hagens Berman, said in a statement following the judge's denial, "EA tried to hide under the First Amendment but the court recognized similarities between real athletes and the game were just too great to be ignored."
The law firm said that the NCAA and EA now have to "prove they did not use the likenesses of actual college athletes in NCAA-branded video games" such as the NCAA Football, NCAA March Madness, and NCAA Basketball franchises from EA Sports.
Electronic Arts has had sports game-related licensing issues in the past. A group of retired pro football players in 2009 settled a lawsuit against the NFL Players Association for $26 million for improperly licensing their images.
A Game Informer article from Wednesday also confirmed that there are no NCAA Basketball titles in development, with an EA Sports rep saying there is "currently reviewing the future of our NCAA Basketball business." Members of the game's development team have joined other projects within the company, according to the report.