Does transposing Johnny Unitas jersey number not make him Johnny Unitas? EA Sports hoped you would think that. They thought some retired players would think that as well. In the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend!” A whopping 6,000 retired NFL players filed a lawsuit against Electronic Arts for unlawful likeness of players in the Madden ’09 historic teams.
The lawsuit alleges that EA “knowingly and intentionally” used the retired players image and likeness in such a way to avoid paying licensing fees. The lawsuit contends that EA would use the exact same stats, height and weight as the player while active. The only changes made were omitting the name of the player and their jersey number.
Here’s the thing, gamers can go in and edit player’s name AND jersey. If you already know who the ‘nameless’ historic player is based on stats, you can just go in and put his name in and voila, you have your official historic player. EA did pay the NFL Player’s Association a reported $35 million for current players likeness and image.
I’m not a lawyer, I only play one on TV, but this seems like a pretty simple case, and EA is in the wrong. I can only guess they thought the retired players would not be aware of what they did(as if they don’t have grandchildren). They didn’t want the retired players cutting in on their $4.9 BILLION in profit for 2009. EA stated they do not comment on pending litigation.
Erikka is the resident female voice of BSO. You can follow her on twitter here.