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Monday, August 2, 2010

NFL Veterans Sue EA Sports, Claim Their Likenesses Were Ripped Off. Yes, Again.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 2, 2010 at 3:45 PM

click to enlarge No, Bret Favre isn't suing. But a sideline's worth of other gridiron players are.
  • No, Bret Favre isn't suing. But a sideline's worth of other gridiron players are.
Electronic Arts Inc. is facing yet another lawsuit faulting the videogame company for ripping off the players depicted in the football game Madden NFL.

Tony Davis, former halfback for the Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, claims that the Redwood City-based company has been simulating the likeness of him and thousands of other retired NFL players without paying them a cent. Several teams worth of players from the college ranks have brought similar charges. The lawsuit cites damages exceeding $5 million.

Beginning with its 2009 version, Madden has added over 140 "historic teams" to the list of squads that players can choose from. Davis claims that the game's team rosters have a composition of players identical to those in real life. In order for EA to avoid paying licensing fees, the avatars do not use retired players' names and have slightly altered characteristics.

For example, Davis' roster profile when he played on the 1979 Tampa Bay team shows he was 26 years old, 5-foot-11, weighed 215 pounds, wore number 27, and was in his fourth year as an NFL player.

Tony Davis wore a helmet like this -- hasn't he suffered enough?
  • Tony Davis wore a helmet like this -- hasn't he suffered enough?
One of the "historic teams" on the game is that '79 Tampa Bay team. Coincidentally, it seems, the Bucs' halfback has the same profile as Davis did, except his shirt number is 37. Near imitations such as this one are "so close to the living player's characteristics that the consumers of the game could readily discern what player was being represented," the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit muses that there would be no point to offering historic teams if they included fictional players. "Players of the Madden video game cannot enjoy pitting one historical team against another (or one historical team against a current team) if the rosters of those teams do not represent the actual characteristics of the teams that they know and love," it states.

That is probably why there is an option for Madden players to edit the roster by changing avatars' shirt number and name; aficionados of the '79 Bucs, for example, need only to change Davis' number to 27 and they'd have an exact match.

This, it seems, makes Davis upset. Adding insult to injury, back in 1979, his uniform looked like this. H/T | Courthouse News
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Alex Wolens

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