The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court that dismissed the lawsuit of former Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart's against EA Sports related to the NCAA franchise. Hart sued EA using his image in NCAA Football without his permission and without properly compensating him, he claims. Hart, who played for Rutgers from 2002-05 filed his suit in 2009 against EA.
In September of 2011, U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson in Trenton, New Jersey ruled that Hart’s right over how his likeness was used was trumped by the First Amendment and EA’s right to free expression under it.
A three-judge panel acknowledged that EA may be protected under the First Amendment as a work of free expression, but they also noted that the virtual Hart does depict the real-life Hart's accomplishments on the field.
"The digital Ryan Hart does what the actual Ryan Hart did while at Rutgers: He plays college football, in digital recreations of college football stadiums, filled with all the trappings of a college football game," Judge Joseph Greenaway said. “This is not transformative; the various digitized sights and sounds in the video game do not alter or transform the appellant’s identity in a significant way."
Hart won his appeal by a 2-1 vote. The case will now return to the District Court in Trenton, New Jersey.
Source: SNU Rutgers