Electronic Arts is facing a class action lawsuit filed by approximately 6,000 former NFL players for the unlawful use of their likenesses in the long running Madden series.
The lawsuit was initially kicked off back in 2010 and courts finally gave the go ahead for the case yesterday.
EA’s argument against the case was that the likenesses used were incidental and protected by the First Amendment in the US.The circuit judge overseeing the case decided that this was not true and that the likenesses were ’central to EA’s main commercial purpose’ in that it was creating a realistic virtual simulation of American football games.
Publishing giant EA intends to fight the case and sees itself as standing for the protection of the First Amendment.
’We believe in the First Amendment right to create expressive works, in any form, that relate to real-life people and events, and will seek further court review to protect it,’ said an EA spokesperson.
Precedent is not in EA’s favour at this point as the company faced a very similar case back in 2013 from college athletes that cost the publisher around $40m.
The Madden NFL series is one of the video game industry’s most notorious and successful franchises. First launching in 1988 as John Madden Football, according to stats released in 2010, the series had sold more than 85 million copies and made EA more than $3bn in sales.