Electronic Arts must face a lawsuit from former NFL players who claim the Madden NFL video game series used their likeness without their permission. That’s according to a ruling Tuesday by a federal appeals court, which decided that the popular game maker cannot claim that the use of the players’ images were “incidental” and covered by the First Amendment.
“We hold EA’s use of the former players’ likenesses is not incidental because it is central to EA’s main commercial purpose—to create a realistic virtual simulation of football games involving current and former NFL teams,” Judge Raymond Fisher wrote [PDF] for the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 2013, the same court had sided with former NCAA college football players in their lawsuit against EA, a ruling that eventually resulted in a $40 million settlement last year.
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