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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bill Russell, NBA Legend, Sues NCAA and Electronic Arts

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2011 at 8:15 AM

click to enlarge This could be a slam dunk case
  • This could be a slam dunk case

He may be 77, but he's still up for a little legal one-on-one. William "Bill" Russell, the former USF basketball star and Celtics player from the late '50s and '60s, is suing the NCAA and Electronic Arts for using his likeness for a popular video game without paying him.

Russell claims the company ripped off his image without consent and used it for the "Tournament of Legends" feature on an NCAA video game. He joins other pro athletes who have sued, claiming the NCAA has ripped off their likeness without properly compensating them.

The suit, filed last week in a federal court in Oakland, also names Electronic Arts, the second-largest U.S. video game maker as a defendant.

Russell says the game sells videos of the team's championship games and features clips and photos of him from when he played center for the University of San Francisco in 1955. He is seeking a court order to block the sale of anymore games.

NCAA's general counsel Donald Remy told Bloomberg that the suit overreaches its scope and that the current setup doesn't bar Russell from marketing his likeness for commercial gain through advertisements and endorsements.

"Mr. Russell, like the thousands of other student-athletes who played the game, can capitalize on his likeness, reputation, athletic and academic successes as a student-athlete after college," Remy said. Russell's claim would "lock up" the NCAA's video archive unnecessarily, Remy said.

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Ellen Huet

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