EA may pay almost $1,000 per college athlete for sports game settlement

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EA may pay almost $1,000 per college athlete for sports game settlement
Student athletes whose likenesses were used in EA's NCAA football and basketball games will receive up to $951 for each year they were featured in the games, according to a proposed settlement being put forth for approval by a judge. While EA proposed a $40 million settlement in September 2013 for its ongoing litigation with student athletes over its college sports series stemming back to May 2009, it hasn't been clear how that money would divide among the parties in the lawsuit until now.

More than 100,000 current and former college athletes will have the potential to claim part of the settlement, according to CBS Sports. Of those athletes, roughly 7,000 of them are current players, based on estimates from Rob Carey, an attorney for former Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller. EA tacked on an extra $8 million in expenses related to the settlement in its fiscal 2014 financial results in May. Its proposed settlement followed the cancellation of its 2014 college football game, which would have been without the NCAA's logos and marks after the two parted ways in July 2013.
[Image: EA Sports]
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Hagens Berman Reaches Preliminary Approved Settlement with Electronic Arts in Likeness Case

Settlement marks first time NCAA will pay student-athletes for likenesses

SEATTLE – Attorneys representing student-athletes who claim Electronic Arts (EA) (NASDAQ: EA) illegally used student-athletes' likenesses in the company's popular NCAA Football, Basketball, and March Madness videogames today filed a motion to approve a settlement that could mean thousands of dollars in settlement payments to affected players, according to Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro.

According to Steve W. Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and co-lead attorney, this is the first time in history that the NCAA's commercial partners will reimburse student-athletes for using their likenesses.

The settlement covers claims made in the Keller and O'Bannon case against EA along with the Alston and Hart cases. Depending on the response and claims rates for the class, class members could receive up to $951 for each year they were featured in the videogame, according to the firm.

"We're incredibly pleased with the results of this settlement and the opportunity to right a huge wrong enacted by the NCAA and EA against these players and their rights of publicity," said Steve Berman." "We've fought against intense legal hurdles since filing this case in 2009 and to see this case come to fruition is a certain victory."

For additional comments from Steve Berman regarding the case, visit http://youtu.be/L94u7LwapfI.

Affected class members have been generally defined as NCAA football and basketball players listed on the roster of a school whose team was included in an NCAA Branded Videogame published or distributed during the period May 4, 2003 to the Preliminary Approval Date and whose assigned jersey number appears on a virtual player in the software, or whose photograph was otherwise included in the software.
EA, with the knowledge and consent of the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company, used student athletes' names, images, and likenesses in NCAA branded videogames without compensation.

The cases drew national attention because the case revolved, in part, on whether EA's videogames and representations of the player-athletes were protected under the First Amendment.

Judge Claudia Wilken in the U.S. District Court for Northern California must grant preliminary approval of the settlement before ultimately approving the deal.

More information, including case documents is available at http://www.hbsslaw.com/cases-and-investigations/cases/ncaavideogames.
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