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EA wins NCAA player lawsuit

by Andrew Yoon, Sep 09, 2011 3:30pm PDT

Electronic Arts had a lot at stake if it had lost a lawsuit against a former Rutgers University quarterback. According to estimates, the company could have lost a billion dollars. That's a lot of zeroes. Still, EA seemed to take it lightly. "We could lose billions more if a giant meteor hits the earth," EA spokesman Jeff Brown said back then. "We're not planning for either outcome."

Brown had reason for such a confident response. EA has won the lawsuit, and Earth hasn't been struck by a giant meteor.

The original suit claimed that EA had used Ryan Hart's likeness in NCAA Football without his permission. In EA's defense, it wasn't Hart, but someone with his general appearance and similar stats. With video games officially protected by first amendment rights, the judge ruled that EA was within its bounds.

EA lawyer Elizabeth McNamara told Reuters (via Gamasutra) that the ruling "validates Electronic Arts' rights to create and publish its expressive works."

However, Hart's lawyer Tim McIlwain called the decision "a major disappointment," and says that he plans on appealing the decision. "Millions of dollars are being made, and he's not getting his part of that pot. How is this allowed to happen?"





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