8. NCAA Athletes Vs. Electronic Arts And The NCAA
We're including this case on the list not just because of the amount of money involved - but because of the amount of JUSTICE involved.
Once again we're dealing with the right of publicity, but in a much more reasonable sense. In 2009, former NCAA athlete Ed O'Bannon filed an anti-trust class-action lawsuit against the NCAA, its licensing company and Electronic Arts, publishers of NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball.
Student athletes had previously been barred from receiving royalties for the use of their likenesses under the pretense that the NCAA was not allowed to profit off of its student athletes... even though that's exactly what they were doing with EA.
EA even attempted the first-amendment defense that the players in the game were fictional representations in a fictional story. However, since the NCAA video games featured each player's actual likeness and precise statistics, including height and weight, combined with the fact that - y'now - college football and basketball games don't have stories, the parties chose to settle the matter out of court, awarding the athletes a total of $40 million.
And then EA promptly put an end to their NCAA games so they would never have to pay them again.
In the end, justice prevailed! Sort of, I guess...