A class action lawsuit filed by former college athletes against the NCAA and Electronic Arts focuses on the potential unlawful use of athletes' likenesses without their consent. USA Today says that the case, filed by former Nebraska and Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller and former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon, is now a couple of years old, but the judge has already said that if rights were violated, EA could be paying big damages.
How big? Try a quarter of EA's annual revenue, or about $1 billion. USA Today did some fancy math, but to boil it down, it comes out to the law saying that the players can get $1,000 a likeness. Add up all the players (3,630), games, and then triple it for a statue that says that it can be trebled if the violation was "knowing, willful or intentional," and you've got about $1 billion that EA could have to shell out.
Yikes. EA has argued that it has a First Amendment right to use the players likenesses. I'm not feeling so good about that.