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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  1.  
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    sehlat (profile), Jul 7th, 2010 @ 6:56pm

    This isn't "free expression rights."

    This is about a corporation exploiting Mr. Brown's face and reputation to make money off both of them. He has every right to demand that they either forgo using his likeness or pay him for the privilege.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 7:03pm

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

    Uhh...why?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 7:34pm

    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.

     

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    trilobug, Jul 7th, 2010 @ 9:14pm

    EA will cave and take him out of the game. That is the easiest option, he doesn't add that much value to the product. I imagine some companies are on eggshells with these types of deals after what happened to Guitar Hero and how Activision used certain likenesses.

     

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    Anonymous Poster, Jul 8th, 2010 @ 4:31am

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

    "Next every politician has a tool to take down others that use his/her image"

    Or their words.

    Free speech > publicity rights any day of the week, in my opinion.

     

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    Evan, Jul 8th, 2010 @ 5:11am

    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.

     

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    imbrucy (profile), Jul 8th, 2010 @ 5:57am

    Re:

    Normally I would agree, but I could see EA actually fighting this because of the long term benefits for them. Currently they license all the players in the game through the Players Association. Imagine how that situation would change if the court said they didn't need to license every player's likeness.

     

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  8.  
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    Jesus, Jul 8th, 2010 @ 6:10am

    My likeness has been showing up everywhere lately and I've been meaning to have a talk with you guys about that.

     

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    nasch (profile), Jul 8th, 2010 @ 9:12am

    Re: Jim Brown ain't a football player

    I'm pretty sure this is the Jim Brown who is a retired NFL player.

    http://kotaku.com/5369702/federal-judge-rules-video-games-are-protected-expressive-works

    Unless you have a source that says otherwise of course.

     

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  10.  
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    Evan, Jul 9th, 2010 @ 6:11am

    Re: Re: Jim Brown ain't a football player

    Ah, well, maybe that is the case... well, there WAS a case regarding what I described in my post last year.

    Maybe I should pay more attention next time.

     

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  11.  
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    Mitch Featherston, Jul 12th, 2010 @ 6:01am

    Hmmm...

    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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    nasch (profile), Jul 12th, 2010 @ 1:39pm

    Re: Hmmm...

    It seems like EA would need permission from Mr Brown to portray him as a character in a game.

    Why? Other than because the law says so of course.

    I am not a fan of publicity rights except in the case of unlawful use.

    Isn't that just another way of saying you're a fan of publicity rights?

     

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  13.  
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    Emrah, Jul 22nd, 2010 @ 11:01am

    thanks

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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