Video Game Victory: Former Basketball Star's Likeness Lawsuit Against NCAA Will Go Forward

Ed O'Bannon

A U.S. District Court Judge in San Francisco denied the NCAA’s motion to dismiss former collegiate basketball star Ed O’Bannon’s class-action antitrust lawsuit yesterday.

O’Bannon, who was a member of the 1995, NCAA-tournament winning UCLA Bruins, is suing the college basketball association and the Collegiate Licensing Company on behalf of several former players (who are yet to be named) over the use of the likenesses and images that appear in such things as video games and memorabilia. 

Monday’s ruling means that the NCAA’a licensing contracts and financial records will be open for discovery. According to the New York Times, the licensing deals are estimated to be worth more than $4 billion.

NYT: “This is a truly historic day — to our knowledge, no one has ever gotten behind the scenes to examine how student-athletes’ current and future rights in their images are divided up and sold,” said Jon T. King of Hausfeld LLP, one of the lead lawyers representing O’Bannon.

The filing does not include a monetary figure, though financial disclosures revealed during discovery will help provide a damages figure. The NCAA’s tax-exempt status may be scrutinized by curious members of Congress, points out the NYT.

In an email to USA Today, Jon King, a lawyer representing the players said, “Performers are entitled to be compensated…This is the one business in America that has operated to the contrary. Now we’ll find out what the numbers are.”

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