According to Sports Illustrated, ten former NFL players including Hall of Famers John Riggins, Dave Casper, Tom Mack and Ron Yary filed a class action lawsuit last month in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey for using their likenesses in advertising without consent.
“NFL Films has never obtained authorization from retired players to use their images to be, as NFL Films puts it, the `backbone’ of the NFL Network,” the lawsuit claims. “NFL Films’ conduct goes far beyond simply use of images without consent. It continues to this day to strike licensing business deals, in New Jersey, affirmatively, and falsely, misrepresenting that it has obtained all former players’ consent to appear in its promotional materials. The NFL does likewise.”
According to the lawsuit, in 1993, all player contracts began to include clauses that granted the NFL authority to use names, images and likenesses of players to publicize and promote the league—however, the players involved in the lawsuit played before these contracts became the norm. The lawsuit indicates that NFL Films makes $50 million per year in licensing revenue.
It will be interesting to see how this case plays out. Similarly, several former college athletes are involved in a class action lawsuit in California against the NCAA and video game company Electronic Arts, claiming the two used player likenesses and images without their consent, while generating significant profits.
Should the NFL and NCAA have to pay former players for using their likenesses in video games and advertising? Often, in class action lawsuits like this, plaintiffs hope that they can obtain damages or a settlement for everyone affected, making the suit financially viable. While not dealing with the same issue, last month, the NFL reached a $765 million settlement with thousands of former players in a class action lawsuit brought on over concussion-related brain injuries.
If you have any interest in speaking with the attorney about a potential class action lawsuit, please contact Gary S. Graifman, Esq., toll free at (800) 711-5258 to schedule a free initial consultation or complete the form on this page to let our skilled attorneys review your case.
Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. – Class Action Lawyers