NCAA and EA Sports Settlement: Finally! Paid to Play
This post is by Salvador Orofino, ReadyPulse Advisory Board Member and Chief Privacy Officer.
Here at ReadyPulse, we talk a lot about authorized content. Specifically, we urge marketers to make sure they understand the rights of the people whose images they use in campaigns. Recent $60 million class-action settlements by athletes against the NCAA and video game company EA Sports highlight that paying for image rights is finally coming full circle.
In this lawsuit against the EA Sports, the NCAA and its licensing arm, the plaintiffs, ex-college athletes, alleged that both the NCAA and EA Sports had essentially stolen their publicity rights. By using the student athletes’ bodies, movement characteristics, team positions, etc., EA and the NCAA were allowed to profit without paying the individuals used to generate at least a portion of that profit. The plaintiffs’ lawyers were able to establish, for the first time in college sports history, that athletes are entitled to money for use of their image and likeness during their college career.
So why is this important? For those of us who bet our business on commercializing imagery, this is a groundbreaking turn away from tradition. It means that even in industries where there are black-and-white restrictions from the personal commercial use of one’s own imagery, unapproved third-party use of that same person may not be allowed. Building a sustainable, shock-proof business model using imagery of third parties without their consent is, at least in part, a thing of the past. This settlement shows us that having authorized high-level imagery is becoming necessary to ensure that your marketing campaigns are as non-litigious and impactful as possible.