SBD/November 16, 2010/Marketing And Sponsorship

Keller's Lawsuit Against EA Could Have Far-Reaching Implications

Keller's Lawsuit Against EA Sports Gains More Supporters, Including Pro Sports Unions

Lawyers believe that the outcome of EA's appeal of former Arizona State QB Sam Keller's lawsuit against the company “could rewrite the rules that dictate how much ownership public figures have over their images -- and the extent to which outside parties, including media and entertainment companies -- can profit from them,” according to a front-page piece by Katie Thomas of the N.Y. TIMES. The case is “drawing attention because it gets to the heart of a highly contested legal question: when should a person’s right to control his image trump the free-speech rights of others to use it?” The issue is “an area about which the Supreme Court has remained largely silent.” Keller in ’09 filed a class-action lawsuit against EA, the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company, claiming that they “illegally profited from the images of college players portrayed” in the video games “NCAA Football” and “NCAA Basketball.” Keller and his supporters “argue that the video games in question are not protected by the First Amendment because the company was using the likenesses of college athletes for purely commercial gain.” More than “three dozen parties have signed their names to briefs supporting each side” since EA filed its opening brief in the appeal in August.  The Motion Picture Association of America, the Gannett Company, ESPN and Viacom have “aligned themselves” with EA. But Keller has “powerful allies of his own: the players unions for professional baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer filed a brief supporting Keller.” The next step in the appeal is for EA to “file a reply to Keller’s brief” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/16).

COVER SHOOT: 2K Sports has announced that Phillies P Roy Halladay will be the cover athlete for “MLB 2K11,” which will be released next spring (2K Sports).’s Michael McWhertor noted 2K Sports last year “offered a million bucks to the first person who pitched a perfect game” in “MLB 2K10," and Halladay “pitched a perfect game in the real world” on May 29 (, 11/15).

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