College athletes may be headed for a payday after EA Sports agreed to a $40 million settlement over likeness rights in its games.
The settlement, filed in court last week, has the potential to include more than 100,000 athletes (and even current college players) who have had their virtual selves included in Electronic Arts' line of NCAA-related video games. According to The Associated Press, taking part in the settlement will not affect any current player's eligibility to play.
If the settlement is approved, what will college athletes receive from EA?
About $1K for Each Year Image Was Used
Although the final estimates depend on how many players take part in the settlement with EA, players may get paid nearly a grand for each year they were featured in EA's games.
The AP reports that players may receive "as little as $48 per year an athlete was on a roster" or as much as "$951 for each year the image of an athlete was used in a video game." For college players who began as freshmen, there's a potential for at least four years of settlement money. This settlement is actually old news for some, as EA and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) announced the settlement as early as October.
Details of the settlement do not change one underlying fact: College athletes haven't settled with the National Collegiate Athletic Association for its part in selling the players' likenesses for use in EA's games. This suit, in addition to allegations that the NCAA is an unlawful cartel, had some worried that the NCAA would penalize players for taking part in the settlement.
But according to the AP, the NCAA has announced that "[n]ot one [player] will miss a practice or a game if this settlement is approved by the court."
Settlement Still Needs Judge's Approval
Players shouldn't be counting their settlement money just yet; this EA settlement agreement still needs to be approved by a judge.
Federal Judge Claudia Wilken has the authority to approve the proposed $40 million settlement before it becomes final. It's possible she may reject the settlement -- for example, if she finds that the proposed amount is too little to compensate the potential claimants.
So players will have to wait a bit longer before getting something for their likenesses in EA's games.
- College Athletes' Video Game Settlement Moves NCAA One Step Closer to Annihilation (Slate)
- Game Over for EA Sports' Use of Athletes in Video Games? Not Quite (FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty)
- EA Sports Used Ex-NCAA Athletes' Likeness Without Permission: 9th Cir. (FindLaw's Courtside)
- Judge Tosses EA 'NCAA Football' Lawsuit Brought by Ex-Quarterback (FindLaw's Decided)