Jim Brown Appeals Case Over Whether Or Not EA Can Use His Likeness In A Video Game

from the first-amendment? dept

Back in September last year, we wrote about an important district court ruling that said video game maker EA was within its rights to use a likeness of football player Jim Brown in its video games. In the past few decades, there has been a dangerous expansion in so-called “publicity rights,” like this that effectively put serious limits on what others can do. This expansion needs to be challenged, even if it seems like something so simple as a video game. Not surprisingly, however, Brown is now appealing the district court’s decision to dismiss the case, saying that he wasn’t able to present all the facts. We noted last year that this case would certainly be appealed, so this doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Still, it should be a case worth watching if you are concerned about the expansion of concepts like publicity rights (and, on the flip side, about free expression rights).

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Companies: ea

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Comments on “Jim Brown Appeals Case Over Whether Or Not EA Can Use His Likeness In A Video Game”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: This isn't "free expression rights."

This is not just about a corporation, is about people too.

Jim Brown if it wins can stifle free speech and democracy.

Next every politician has a tool to take down others that use his/her image, next anyone posting a photo of someone else will have to endure C&D letters etc.

Evan (profile) says:

Jim Brown ain't a football player

Jim Brown isn’t a football player. He’s a football fan who wears a dog mask.

The original case alleges that EA used his likeness (that of a football fan wearing a dog mask) in the last iteration of their Madden football series.

God forbid that a football game portray a football fan wearing a mask – note that they did not use the man’s actual likeness, rather they used an image of a football fan wearing a dog mask. Does this mean that if I attend a football game wearing a dog mask, I am infringing upon Jim Brown’s absolutely original idea and that I owe him something?

I don’t think so.

Mitch Featherston (profile) says:


I am not sure what “likeness” means in terms of a video game. It seems to me that if the character in the game is said to be Jim Brown, and the 3d model looks like him, then he has a legit case, I think. I am not a fan of publicity rights except in the case of unlawful use. It seems like EA would need permission from Mr Brown to portray him as a character in a game.

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