– Derek Allen, Attorney –
I’ve previously blogged about a pending lawsuit involving former college athletes (here and here) and whether they should get paid when universities and business partners use their likenesses. Brent Lorentz, a Chambers USA-recognized rising star in the world of litigation, blogged about a similar suit on Monday. The plot thickened last Thursday due to some internet sleuthing and the ubiquitous Tim Tebow.
One of the issues in the lawsuit I’ve written about is whether college players should be compensated for appearing in video games. As video game junkies know, the NCAA and EA Sports (the developer that makes games for the NCAA) have attempted to avoid featuring actual college athletes by using only their numbers, not their names, to represent players in the game. For example, EA Sports knew it couldn’t call Florida’s quarterback from the late 2000s “Tim Tebow,” so they made a player who looked the same and had the same level of skill and called him “QB #15” (which coincidentally happened to be Tebow’s actual number). When the players called out EA Sports for this tactic, EA Sports assured everyone that the players in its video games did not refer to actual players and that it would never refer to its video game players by their actual names.
Oops. Someone on the internet with too much time on his hands (I know, the existence of such a person shocked me too) fired up his copy of NCAA Football from 2010 and discovered that EA Sports had actually referred to Tim Tebow by name in the game, something the NCAA promised would not and had not happened. While this is likely not a make-or-break issue in the suit, it is certainly a victory for little guys everywhere when an internet user can
prove that the NCAA and EA Sports were totally full of it have an impact on important litigation.
SIDE NOTE: For those of you who are interested in watching as I build a personal multimedia empire in front of your eyes, following up on my recent post on the matter, I had the opportunity to speak with Colin O’Keefe of LXBN regarding recent litigation involving the owners of popular internet memes and the developers of video game Scribblenauts. I offer my thoughts on whether other businesses should be worried about using memes, say “you know” a few too many times, and prominently feature my Green Bay Packer stock certificate: