Former college basketball player Ed O’Bannon says that his class action lawsuit related to various EA Sports games against the National Collegiate Athletic Association isn't about getting rich - it's about what is fair. The former University of California-Los Angeles forward says that lawsuit is about establishing the rights of players of the college sports’ governing body to keep proceeds from selling the rights to athletes’ likenesses used in TV broadcasts, video games and clothing lines.
"It had nothing to do with me actually picking up a check or getting paid," Ed O’Bannon said. "I thought it was illegal to use one’s likeness without a person’s permission or compensation."
The plaintiffs say the case may reduce the $6.4 billion in annual revenue that universities get from athletics by as much as 50 percent.
"It’s a legitimate threat to the NCAA," said Michael McCann, a law professor and director of the sports and entertainment law institute at the University of New Hampshire. "The antitrust claims have logic behind them, namely that there are industry actors — the NCAA, college conferences, video game publishers — who have clearly made money off the images and likenesses of players. Normally in law we are compensated for that."
A representative from the NCAA tells Bloomberg that it will ultimately win the case. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California is scheduled to hear lawyers argue whether O’Bannon’s suit joined by former Arizona State University quarterback Sam Keller, should become a class action, allowing the plaintiffs’ attorneys to sue on behalf of all college football and basketball players. The case is Keller v. Electronic Arts Inc., 09-01967, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).