A symbolic win for retired NFL players: A federal jury rules the player’s union owes old pros royalties for video game characters based on their likenesses, even when their face isn’t used. The verdict: Monopoly money. Just $7.1 million in lost revenue and another $21 million in punitive damages against the union, a settlement of about $13,000 per player involved before lawyer’s fees.
Lead plaintiff Herb Adderley makes his case to the LA Times:
“If you look at the 1976 Green Bay Packers in that game, you’ll know that the only left cornerback that year had to be Herb Adderley, but they scrambled my face and took the number off of my jersey,” Adderley said. “Yet, they had my correct height, weight and years of experience.”
Particularly damning, an email that surfaced during the lawsuit’s discovery phase, in which union execs instruct Electionic Arts (ERTS) not to use player’s faces:
For all retired players… their identity must be altered so that it cannot be recognised. …A player’s identity is defined as his name, likeness (including without limitation, number), picture, photograph, voice, facsimile signature and/or biographical information. [Retired players] cannot be represented in Madden 2002 with the number that player actually wore, and must be scrambled.
EA’s Madden NFL 09 remains the most popular video game in the world, with almost three million units shipping in the third quarter.
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