Keller sues EA Sports over images

Updated: May 8, 2009, 3:52 AM ET
Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. -- Former Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller is suing EA Sports and the NCAA, saying the video-game maker wrongly uses the names and likenesses of athletes and the NCAA sanctions the practice.

Keller's lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco as a class-action, suing on behalf of all college athletes depicted in the NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball video games made by EA Sports.

Rob Carey of Phoenix, Keller's attorney, contends EA Sports profits from using the names and likenesses of players. The lawsuit would bar EA Sports from using the names and likenesses and seeks undetermined compensation for athletes who have been portrayed in the video games.

Keller was Nebraska's starting quarterback in 2007. He transferred from Arizona State in 2006.

NCAA bylaws prohibit the use of the names and likenesses of athletes for commercial purposes. NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said in a statement Thursday that the NCAA is confident it will be dismissed from the case.

"Our agreement with EA Sports clearly prohibits the use of names and pictures of current student-athletes in their electronic games," he said. "We are confident that no such use has occurred."

Though names are not visible on player jerseys in the video games, the lawsuit contends EA Sports "intentionally circumvents the prohibitions on utilizing student-athletes' names by allowing gamers to upload entire rosters, which include players' names and other information, directly into the game in a matter of seconds."

A message seeking comment from EA Sports in Redwood City, Calif., was not immediately returned.

The lawsuit said EA contracts with the NCAA's licensing company, Collegiate Licensing Co. of Atlanta, allowing the video-game maker to replicate team logos, uniforms, mascots and stadiums with "almost photographic realism."

Carey says Keller, who lives in Phoenix, is "not interested in getting compensated for himself."

"He just didn't think it appropriate that, given that the NCAA says you can't profit from your likeness ... they do the wink and the nod when EA Sports presents them with the game, which has the likeness of the player," Carey said.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press