Court dismisses QB’s case against EA over image usage in NCAA Football

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Ex-Rutgers University quarterback Ryan Hart has had his lawsuit against Electronic Arts dismissed by US District Judge Freda Wolfson, reports Reuters. The suit alleged that EA knowingly used Hart’s likeness in NCAA Football without his consent, and as such should be required to provide Hart with compensation. In this case, Hart’s “likeness” amounts to his physical appearance and footballery stats, not his actual name.

Judge Wolfson dismissed the suit on the grounds that EA’s First Amendment rights to free expression outweigh Hart’s right to protect his likeness, despite the fact that the character in question was “designed with Hart’s physical attributes, sports statistics, and biographical information in mind.” Wolfson feels that the game’s robust character customization options negate the impact of these similarities, as they are not set in stone.

This ruling contradicts a precedent set by a similar case in 2010, in which a California judge allowed a suit by ex-Arizona State University/University of Nebraska quarterback Samuel Keller, a decision which EA is currently appealing.  Speaking of appeals, Hart’s legal representation is naturally appealing the Judge’s ruling, calling the outcome “a major disappointment.”

As is the way with this sort of thing, it will likely be several months before any progress is made by either party. Until then, enjoy this bathroom stall poem we’ve penned for the occasion: “Here I sit all broken Harted, tried to sue but got Electronic Arted.”

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