SBJ/Feb. 24-March 2, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Issue of NFL Now raised in lawsuit against NFL Films

It didn’t take long for NFL Now, the league’s nascent digital network, to get dragged into a lawsuit.

Players suing NFL Films over their use in that group’s footage last week cited NFL Now as a prime example of how they are being exploited.

“This new frontier for the commercial exploitation and monetization of Class Members’ images, for overtly commercial purposes, will be a prime source of new discovery in the present action,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys wrote in a motion filed last week in the case, Culp v. NFL Films.

Hall of famer Curley Culp is the lead plaintiff. The case, filed in New Jersey federal court, seeks payment for the use of retiree images in NFL Films.

Culp and more than 2,100 other retirees have opted out of the pending settlement of a similar case in Minnesota, Dryer v. NFL. They contend the proposed $50 million settlement in the Dryer case does not compensate the retirees appropriately.

The NFL is seeking to have the Culp case moved to Minnesota federal court (as it is with a similar case filed in Pennsylvania federal court). Culp’s lawyers filed a motion opposing the move last week, and it was in those papers that they raised the NFL Now issue.

The NFL announced its NFL Now product during Super Bowl week and plans to launch the offering this summer. The network will provide team-by-team customized content via computers, tablets, mobile devices and game consoles, as well as a link on Yahoo.

While the NFL will lean heavily on teams to supply content for NFL Now, NFL Films is also a key component of the plan.

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