Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Protecting Athletes' Right of Publicity in Videogames

Marc Edelman, Barry University School of Law, is publishing Closing the 'Free Speech' Loophole: The Case for Protecting College Athletes' Publicity Rights in Commercial Videogames in the Florida Law Review. Here is the abstract.

This article argues that despite “free speech” concerns, courts should protect college athletes’ publicity rights in commercial videogames. Part I of this article discusses the status of the American college athlete and the practice of licensing intellectual property rights from colleges to videogame publishers. Part II introduces the state-law right of publicity: an intellectual property right that protects commercial interests in one’s own likeness. Part III explains why Electronic Arts’ videogames violate the publicity rights of college football players. Part IV explains why courts should not allow videogame publishers to hide behind a First Amendment defense when using exact depictions of college football players’ likenesses. Finally, Part V concludes that even if a videogame publisher were to create an avatar that partially transforms a college athlete’s likeness, the courts should still recognize some liability in the videogame publisher for use of the non-transformed aspects of the college athlete’s identity.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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