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EA fails to revive free speech defense against NFL retirees' lawsuit

EA has tried and failed to take its First Amendment defense in a 2010 lawsuit, filed by NFL retirees whose likenesses appeared in Madden games without compensation, to the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that a lawsuit filed against Electronic Arts by former NFL players whose likenesses were used in the company's Madden games without permission/compensation can move forward, according to Reuters, rejecting EA's argument that its use of said likenesses was "incidental" and thus protected as free speech under the First Amendment.

If this sounds familiar, it's because we reported on a lower court making basically the exact same ruling last January, when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the lawsuit could move forward after EA tried (and failed) to appeal a district court's rejection of the company's free speech defense.

Electronic Arts then sought to appeal that decision and took it all the way up to the Supreme Court, which rejected the attempt and chose to let the 2015 court ruling stand. The case, which was initially instigated in 2010, will now presumably move forward. 

This is not an isolated incident for EA, which in 2014 was forced to pay $40 million to players in the NCAA collegiate basketball league under similar circumstances (and the NCAA itself had to pay an additional $20 million.) 

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