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Retired NFL players' lawsuit against EA moves forward

In 2010, a group of retired NFL players sued EA over use of their likenesses in Madden NFL. A panel of judges reviewed the case and today ruled that it can move forward -- after EA tried to have it thrown out.

In 2010, a group of retired NFL players filed suit against against Electronic Arts, claiming that the company used their likenesses in its Madden NFL franchise without compensation. 

A panel of judges reviewed the case and today ruled that it can move forward -- after EA tried to have it thrown out, the Associated Press reports

The company had attempted to defend its use of the players on First Amendment grounds, but the judges reviewing the case disagreed; Ninth Circuit judge Raymond C. Fisher wrote in the opinion that the First Amendment protects "incidental use," and EA's "use of the former players' likenesses was not incidental because it was central to Electronic Arts’s main commercial purpose: to create a realistic virtual simulation of football games involving current and former National Football League teams."

Last year, the company was forced to pay out $40 million to players in the collegiate league, the NCAA, under similar circumstances (the NCAA had to kick in $20 million more.) 

The full decision is available from the court at this link (PDF). 

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