Electronic Arts has settled with former running back Jim Brown over a dispute of the usage of his likeness in the Madden games According to a press release by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.
The lawsuit was originally filed in California Superior Court on August 30, 2013. In it, Jim Brown’s attorneys alleged that Electronic Arts had sent him a letter in 2005 asking permission to use his likeness in their Madden series of football games. Mr. Brown turned down that offer as well as a subsequent offer by EA in 2007.
Brown’s attorneys claim that their client followed up with EA in both 2007 and 2008 asking about whether or not they made use of his likeness in the game. The complaint states that EA denied that they had made use of his likeness.
Subsequently, the claim is made that Brown discovered his likeness was used in the Madden games in 2008. Furthermore, the lawsuit states that Brown discovered that his likeness had been in use in Madden games as far back as 2000. The specified character had characteristics similar to those of Jim Brown including the same height, weight, age, home state, position, hometown, and more. Following this discovery, Jim Brown filed suit against EA seeking compensation for unauthorized use of his likeness.
EA lost a motion to dismiss in 2015 in a Los Angeles court on First Amendment grounds. Electronic Arts had claimed that the usages of Brown’s likeness were “incidental”. The court rejected that argument. EA appealed that ruling to the California Court of Appeals, which has now been abandoned as a result of them offering this voluntary judgment.
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected similar defenses made by EA in the case Davis v. Electronic Arts. The case was a class-action lawsuit filed by other former football players who had complaints of unauthorized usage of their likeness. EA’s petition to have the case reviewed by the Supreme Court was rejected in March of 2016.
Jim Brown was a Fullback for the Cleveland Browns from 1957-1965. He was the 1957 NFL Rookie of the Year as well a four-time NFL MVP and eight-time NFL rushing yards leader. He subsequently had a healthy acting career including such films as The Dirty Dozen, The Running Man, Mars Attacks!, and Any Given Sunday.
EA will pay Jim Brown $600,000 and drop their current appeal to resolve the judgment for this case. This settlement exceeds the reported compensation for usage of players’ likenesses in the game as well as the reported compensation for appearing on the cover of the Madden series of games.
What do you think of EA’s actions regarding player likenesses in their sports games? Do you think the settlement was fair to both parties? Let us know in the comments below!