Six Current College Football Players Added as Plaintiffs to Likeness Lawsuit

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Posted July 18th, 2013 at 8:00 pm

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With the judge requiring current athletes get involved now in order to consider them as a party should the player likeness lawsuit be certified as class action attorneys today revealed the names of those that will now be added to the case bringing the total number of plaintiffs to 22 – 16 former athletes and 6 current ones. 

Darius Robinson, CB (Clemson)
Chase Garnham, LB (Vanderbilt)
Victor Keise, WR (Minnesota)
Moses Alipate, TE (Minnesota)
Jake Fischer, LB (Arizona)
Jake Smith, K (Arizona)

Robinson, Garnham, and Fischer are all fairly significant contributors to their teams. Alipate hasn’t played a down in four years of eligibility, Keise had one reception in 2010, and another is a kicker. As far as NCAA Football 14’s rosters go it appears Alipate and Keise were not represented at all by a character with their number.

Their experience and level of play however is really inconsequential to whether their likenesses were or were not improperly used. The decision on whether the case will be certified as class action could come within the next few weeks.

Earlier/Summary Below

The player likeness lawsuit against the NCAA, CLC, and Electronic Arts is the culmination of two high profile filings that were combined as led by Sam Keller and Ed O’Bannon (and O’Bannon now heads it up). It alleges improper use of player likeness through various forms of merchandise and media including video games in which the parties in question conspired to avoid paying players for their rights. Some interesting details and claims regarding the case at hand were revealed when EA was reentered as a defendant after initially being dismissed.

EA originally won a previous case regarding player likeness with the courts ruling video games are artistic works rather than commercial speech and therefore protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court in 2011 established forms of media, producing expressive works of art, are not subject to judgments based on incorporating someone’s name or likeness. That dismissed case however, involving Ryan Hart, has resurfaced after an appeals court reversed a decision based on that argument.

Recent uncovered emails have shown that NCAA representatives were well aware that players in games were based off real-life players. At one point the NCAA and EA had nearly reached an agreement to have actual player names included in the products. The EA Locker / Roster Share feature was a fallback option. With momentum clearly on the plantiffs’ side NCAA reps have begun to publicly express concern over the future of collegiate sports. A former EA Sports producer admitted players in NCAA games were based off real athletes.

The discovery of Tim Tebow’s name being in NCAA Football 10 could throw another wrench into EA’s series of arguments. Depositions from former Alabama wide receiver Tyrone Prothro and UConn basketball guard Tate George support the defendant’s reasoning for denying class action certification. The class action hearing resulted in the judge heavily questioning the legitimacy of a potential class and insisting a current athlete be involved. The judge required current athletes be added as plaintiffs for that party to have representation if the case is certified as class action.

This consolidated case in California if certified as class action would go to trial – barring a settlement – and ultimately be the determining factor of how the NCAA proceeds in the future handling broadcasting rights, merchandising, and video games. Should a negative result come down, which one analyst has pegged as being a potential loss of $1 billion for EA, it would likely not just end the NCAA Football series but also with it any realistic possibility of college sports games being made in the future. The trial now is slated to begin June 2014. Appeals following a decision could extend the fight through 2020.

  • Beckrum

    lmao who are these guys. if it was like johnny football or someone i could understand saying theyre making money cause of you. but these ones are crazy to think they matter.

    • MoneyMayweather

      right! it’s witch hunt.

    • Keith.

      “Fischer and Smith said they informed Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez and athletic director Greg Byrne this week that they planned to take part in the lawsuit. … Fischer is on the preseason watch list for the Bednarik Award, given to the top defensive player in college football. …”

      “Jake and Jake came to my house the other day and talked to me about the case and their involvement,” he said. “They’re two conscientious guys, and they’re both really appreciative of playing college ball. It’s not like they’re disenchanted with the system. They love being student-athletes. But with the likeness issue, they wanted to see if they could have a voice for college athletes, and I said I support that.”

      “Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, said he was both surprised and pleased that Rodriguez and Byrne supported the players’ desire to advocate for their peers.”

      “The fact that the athletic department is behind them is huge,” Huma said. “[Coaches and ADs] are the people who arguably benefit the most from the system, and yet they see an injustice and feel it’s OK for players to challenge that system. They’re standing up for what’s right, not what benefits them, which means a lot because I’m sure it took a lot of courage for those players to stand up.”

      http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/9491249/six-current-football-players-join-ed-obannon-ncaa-lawsuit

  • ray

    These guys r nobodys they broke so now they damaging the video world just pitiful. I hope madden loses the license so we can have competition.

    • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

      It’s not just about video games. They want a cut of television revenues and merchandising too – which is much, much more significant than the games.

      • HV

        And if they win the case, they will attack the CLC instead of NCAA for future titles, right?

        • billinga

          Good luck with that. The only person that could sue the CLC for cause are the human mascots. Hard to say that CLC’s licensing of logos, unis, etc. is representing a person’s likeness.

        • Keith.

          The CLC’s already named a defendant. The schools will be next to have the bulls-eye on their back.

    • Keith.

      I’m with you there in hoping Madden loses the license and we get competition back. We’ve had it great with The Show and NBA2k, but it’s been enough suffering without great football already.

  • Curtis Leon Douglas

    It dont make since because people create the names .ea dont do that. And think its a shame that.they dont go after the schools that they used.go to.

  • Keith.

    Pasta, you missed the much larger news here (again, kudos to USA Today for the quick investigative journalism):

    “Amended O’Bannon filing has highly charged allegations”

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/college/2013/07/19/ncaa-ed-obannon-lawsuit-amended-complaint-allegations-ea/2567367/

    “In addition to adding active players to a lawsuit against the NCAA and two co-defendants concerning the use of college athletes’ names and likenesses, lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case amended their complaint by adding a series of new highly charged allegations.

    They mention specific alleged actions not only the NCAA, but also by each of the other defendants, video game manufacturer Electronic Arts and the nation’s leading collegiate trademark licensing and marketing firm, Collegiate Licensing Co (CLC). Even comments of former NCAA president, the late Myles Brand, were spotlighted.”

    The new allegations include:

    “– EA and CLC allegedly “actively lobbied for, and obtained, administrative interpretations of those rules that permitted greater uncompensated exploitation of student-athletes’ names, images, and likenesses. Where their formal efforts were unsuccessful, EA and CLC obtained agreement from the NCAA to permit greater uncompensated exploitation of student-athletes’ names, images, and likenesses notwithstanding the rules.”

    This addresses an argument by EA and CLC that, as business partners of the NCAA, they were simply following the association’s rules pertaining to the use of athletes’ names and likenesses, so the plaintiffs have no right of action against them.”

    • Casor_Greener

      EA, NCAA, and everybody else needs to pay up. They have been exploiting these “student-athletes” for too long. PAY THAT MAN!!!

      • Justin Havard

        And getting 100’s of thousands of dollars in free school is not enough? If this does get through do they have to pay EVERY former student athlete as well? How much does each student athlete get paid? More for football? More for the QB or the starters? How do you decide who gets more than who gets less?

        • Kevin

          The NCAA doesn’t give them the free education. Their school’s give them the scholarships. They aren’t suing their schools; they’re suing the NCAA and EA.

          • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

            Indirectly they are suing the schools though for their involvement with the CLC.

  • Keith.

    Outside the Lines also has an excellent story up about the bigger picture:

    http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/9491249/six-current-football-players-join-ed-obannon-ncaa-lawsuit

    This statement from Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association, is pretty telling:

    “With all the dissension among conference commissioners and schools unhappy with the NCAA, and the stakes so high, are the schools going to trust the NCAA to make the right call in terms of how far they’re going to go in defending this lawsuit?” he said. “Are they going to gamble and take this to trial? Or are the schools going to want to have a voice in crafting a settlement that they can live with?”

    Wonder how long until we get another re-assuring statement from Andrew Wilson? Is there really even any question at this point why the dude unloaded all that stock back in May?

    • rinodino

      Yeah dude I agree, a lot of people want to live in the rainbows and think everything is going to be alright for next year, just because EA says so, and as we well know, just because EA says something, doesn’t make it true, lol….. but this doesn’t look good for another college football game next year. Too many bad signs, so many you can almost drown in them. SMDH

  • SlickLiving

    players on twiiter @ChuckG36 / @21FearGod / @Moses_Alipate12 let’s tell them who we FEEL / what a bunch of V”s

    • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

      I know many will, but I don’t think criticism is necessarily fair here. If they feel their rights were infringed upon they should be able to pursue that. Whether the courts and jury see it their way or not is the question.

      • SlickLiving

        which company will b taken over the football game . 2ksports or another named brand? Just very frustrating as fan of this game. & I C your point.

      • Justin Havard

        I just do not see how their rights were infringed upon. There are no names in the game just QB #10 or whatever and no pictures. The models are not made to look like any of the characters. So I do not get how their rights were infringed at all in these games.

  • billinga

    This just in, “Two generated name players from NCAA 10 have come forwardand are joining the lawsuit because their likeness and name are being used in the game. Tom Tardwell and Jeff Wannabe said they are tired of no compensation for being generated and used by clueless players unaware of the Roster Share function.”

  • JP

    So…
    When you add tuition, housing, food, books, etc…
    Residents at the University of Arizona pay roughly $25,000 to go to school…
    Non-Residents…$35,000 or more…
    I wasn’t a scholarship caliber athlete…I had to pay my way…
    I figure Jake Fischer and Jake Smith are getting paid $25-$35K to play football…
    They travel all over the country…get to do lots of things the rest of us don’t…

    I am a little tired of the “they don’t get paid” argument…

    Eventually…if you are good enough to get paid to play the game…you will get paid…
    Right now…you are just a student athlete…nothing more…

  • Moneygrubstheyare

    What about the band players…are they crying to be paid also? This is crap…they should just stop giving athletic scholarships and then they can pay these guys once they negotiate the contracts with the corporations making the games and televising…can bet your @ss it won’t be anywhere near what all these guys are getting over 4 year scholarships.

    Pitiful…it’s what the country has become…sue for money because that’s what every greedy bast)$&& does.

    Losers…let all of these chumps have crappy seasons and not get drafted…they don’t deserve it.

  • Collin Wilmes

    I’m good friends with Minnesota players Victor Keise and Moses Alipate.. I was shocked to read their name!!!

  • Justin

    How does NCAA use their likeness at all? There is no picture of the players in the game and the models are just generic models that do not really like anybody. Heck in NCAA football 13 Denard Robinson does not even have dreads.

  • BRady

    these are the guys who just realized they aint getting drafted.

  • JJP

    It comes down to one simple thing, these greedy ass players should be happy to be in a video game, come work manual labor and be broke all the time for a living and see how u feel. Ed O’ Bannon, Sam Keller are just pissed of because they were not good enough to make it in the pro’s, so there trying to get rich the easy way because they don’t wanna work for a living, and then they have the nerve to say its not about the money hahahahahahaa what a bunch of losers, like seriously get a life and let us fu*kin enjoy are NCAA Football video games.

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