The Ed O’Bannon case, originally filed in North California five years ago, has yielded several documents revealing the deals the NCAA and EA Sports made that shut college athletes out of receiving any royalties.
To be clear, EA Sports, along with the Collegiate Licensing Company, has already dropped out of the suit. They are settling out of the court with O’Bannon and the other athletes to the tune of $ 40 million, and have subsequently decided not to make a new college football game.
These new documents reveal why EA decided to settle. They cop to putting in player likenesses, to the degree that the in-game announcer would recognize them even if the fans made them from scratch, if you used the right jerseys.
EA’s line of thinking was that they wanted to use player likenesses, in the same way that TV freely showed games with the players. Of course, now that sports teams and athletes are more aggressive about protecting their rights on TV, EA would have had to pay athletes as well.
However, NCAA’s actions in continuing legislation implied that they would not have acted in the athletes’ best interests. They actually sued EA and CLC to stop the abovementioned settlement, which is ironic since the suit is now moving towards NCAA settling with the athletes as well.
If you’re a fan of college football, you should be cheering for the athletes to get their due when all is said and done. If you’re a fan of college football video games, you should also be hoping this suit ends soon so that a new one can be made.