Frank Ryan

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Athletes’ Right of Publicity Claims Directed to Sports Video Games Not Preempted by Copyright Act

The California federal district court, in Davis v. Electronic Arts Inc., recently issued the latest in a series of decisions involving athletes’ right of publicity (“ROP”) claims aimed at Electronic Arts’ (“EA”) popular sports videogame franchise. The plaintiffs in Davis are retired NFL players and allege that EA violated their publicity rights by using their likenesses in EA’s Madden videogame series without authorization. EA moved to dismiss the operative complaint, arguing that the plaintiffs’ state-based ROP claims were preempted by federal copyright law. On December 11, 2017, the district court denied EA’s motion.

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