NBA legend sues EA, NCAA

Celtic great Bill Russell sues NCAA and EA due to lack of compensation for unauthorized use of likeness in NCAA Basketball 09.


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Former Celtic center and University of San Francisco star Bill Russell is suing EA, alleging the unlawful use of his likeness in the Tournament of Legends feature of NCAA Basketball 09. According to a Bloomberg report on the suit, Russell claims EA and the NCAA are violating federal antitrust laws by preventing former student athletes from receiving compensation for commercial use of their image and likeness.

Bill Russell, as he appears in 2K Sports' NBA 2K12.
Bill Russell, as he appears in 2K Sports' NBA 2K12.

Video games are not the only point of contention for Russell; he also takes issue with the NCAA for selling $150 videos that feature footage of him leading USF to championships in 1955 and 1956. General counsel for the NCAA Donald Remy addressed Russell's allegations, saying that complying with his demands for compensation would effectively cause all historical archived footage to be held hostage until every captured person, athlete or not, was compensated for their appearance.

Bloomberg states that the case is likely to be consolidated with a similar suit from former University of California basketball star Ed O’Bannon, who in 2009 alleged that the NCAA unjustly deprived onetime college players of compensation for the use of their images and likenesses across any number of "revenue-generating formats," including games.

At the time, EA said, "We do not believe violations of any current or former student-athlete rights or NCAA bylaws have occurred related to our products." An EA representative declined to comment on the Russell complaint.

Russell is seeking unspecified damages, disgorgement of profits, and suspension of all future sales of the specified videos and games.

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Avatar image for SkamArtist

It's not all about the money, It's about the principal. EA is MAKING money off of him. Why shouldn't he get compensated?

Avatar image for MOwens9512

We can talk about how greedy atheletes are or aren't but bottom line is he has the right to not want others to make money off of him and not profit as well. You can pretty much quit all the talk about him doing this because he needs the dough, too. I sincerely doubt he needs the money, being who he is; Bill Russell probably gets paid just to show up to an event and just wave for a few seconds and leave.

Avatar image for Llama345

You people saying "oh he just needs more money'' are not smart. if someone took your image and what you did as a skill and exploited it without as so much giving you credit you'd be mad too. i would be. the NCAA needs to be brought up on charges of slavery

Avatar image for holhardy

When will these lawsuits stop. They never win and always are thrown out of court because the law is on EAs side. As News, Views, Opinions, Statements, art, Comedy,(Parodies) are covered under the first amendment, All they have to say is that EA is making fun of you, Painting you (Texture Graphic is 3D art) and bam Covered under the Law, which you can't sue for. << LINK REMOVED >>

Avatar image for iiIsSueZ

@meet98 Thanks for your relevant and meaningful input.

Avatar image for meet98

i love football and baseball less basketball

Avatar image for BloomerNYC

I love sports but pro athletes are scum.

Avatar image for lonewolf1044

He is entitled to royalties just like everybody else. Why should EA benefit and make all the money and he should not be entitled to it. You go Bill!

Avatar image for theslimdavylp

He must need the money

Avatar image for fester420

Did he just now play a 3 year-old game?

Avatar image for Majkic666

Everybody should sue EA!

Avatar image for deactivated-5ae060efb3bf6

Sounds like Russell and his family need mo money, mo money...

Avatar image for InN3rChi011

Bill.... if u really the need money sell one of your 11 rings. That will do it.

Avatar image for nyran125

i hate copywrite laws....need a new copyrite law..after 5 years your copywrited likenesses or trademarks or games, movie, music should be void and open game. The makers of bags of chips cant claim on a bag of chips thats 5 years old, so why the hell should your song, movie, book or player likeness get special treatment? BILL RUSSLE IS LOADED...he doesnt need the money.

Avatar image for Final13

Another sports player looking for more money. Anything new here?

Avatar image for grand17

he should collect big money. they shouldnt use any players likeness without their permission. what if they just stuck his face on the case? they are making money off him so pay the man

Avatar image for Evilbunz

ummm EA cannot get sued for this..... ncaa can. some people are just stupid, NCAA makes money from this and does not pay its athletes there are contract in place. EA contracts state the same stuff PLAYERS DON'T GET PAID. To fix this you need to change the whole way NCAA works which is good imo as they are exploiting their students for money. But EA has nothing to do with this.

Avatar image for gstealer

@ -Fromage- EA should be happy they're going to get away with that.. They did not have his permission, they can't complain about it at all, unfortunately.

Avatar image for TheFallenDemon

What's an NBA?

Avatar image for svdbygrce02

go eat your cheese

Avatar image for -Fromage-

He should feel happy they chose him.

Avatar image for Rocker6

@InfamousPhilthy Yeah,they suck a lot,I never had any respect for them,I admit,they made some good games,but they are very evil,they started with online passes,and are slowly destroying great studios they own,like Bioware,just to name a few things.There is more.I could somehow live with all that,untill they came up with Origin spyware.They crossed the line completely,and arent getting any more money from me.

Avatar image for Wrecked69

Honestly, I don't think he should get anything. If he were to get paid for appearing in an NBA game, all the other players would have to also, including thousands of retired players. Same would go for all the other thousands of professional sports players. And on and on. Bill Russell isn't special. If that were true, you could say goodbye to any form of sports video game, trading card, video, etc. I don't know about you guys, but Mario at the Olympics wouldn't cut it for me.

Avatar image for LPodyssey07

@the_requiem That's the first thing I thought of when I started reading this.

Avatar image for the_requiem

To those saying how NCAA can't be compensated, well, they can't be, doesn't mean they shouldn't be. NCAA makes all the money while athletes get nothing.

Avatar image for the_requiem

I am with all athletes on this one. For anyone who doesn't understand, watch South Park's Crack Baby Basketball episode.

Avatar image for InfamousPhilthy

To Rocker6 I'm with you brother. EA is no more than a bunch of trash talking wannabe's. I lost total respect for them when they began this foolish fight with activision. Anyway go get'em Bill!

Avatar image for Rocker6

Good,sue EA,I hope they lose,I hate them.You have my support on this one.They are the biggest cancer of gaming,I would say,even worse than Activi$ion.

Avatar image for megakick

He needs the money.

Avatar image for Seis_Siete

Why are players always b****ing about this? If I was a NBA legend I'd personally feel honored to have my likeness in the game. Besides if he's a legend shouldn't he be pretty rich? So why does he need to be compensated? Greedy b***ard.

Avatar image for BlackSquare

Do people not realize what a contract is? You forgo most of your image rights when you sign a contract with the NBA or play in the NCAA. Moreover, NCAA players cannot be compensated.

Avatar image for Hurvl

There's a lot of dislikeness from people who have their likeness in music or sports games.

Avatar image for DarxPhil

But he's already a millionaire....

Avatar image for T_REX305

Well its EA so I'm with Bill.

Avatar image for rapboy_905

@Philly1UPer How many millions do you think they made playing college basketball in the 50s?

Avatar image for StJimmy15

Remember that one time when the rich weren't greedy? Me neither...

Avatar image for unreal_master

@freedomspopular it takes time for things like this to start. he could have started it in 2009 and now its becoming more official to fall through.

Avatar image for Chainer323

any money EA has to pay off will be made up come december

Avatar image for gamesrok345

I'm pretty sure he's going to win awesome lawsuit!

Avatar image for emperiox

I agree with this lawsuit! Lol he's gonna win, and EA's gonna lose serious $$$

Avatar image for EpicNoobOwnage

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for Meliketurtles

@EpicNoobOwnage You probably shouldn't have began and ended your statement with "LoL" or have misspelled submit by saying "summit". This makes you look a lot worse, just some words of advice before you start a little response battle. Also, due to the complications and stature of this case it probably end in either a good amount of cash and/or policy resettlement.

Avatar image for TheIfym20

good I hate Ea.

Avatar image for crunchb3rry

I swear he tried to sue somebody for the same thing like ten years ago. Dude, get a job as a Walmart greeter if you're that hard up for cash.

Avatar image for BlueFlameBat

Sounds like a greedy has-been, but the law is the law.

Avatar image for freedomspopular

I like how these people always sue like 2 or 3 years after the fact. It obviously hasn't been hurting you, so why make an issue of it now?

Avatar image for amaan4ever

MJ23 is way better than bill russel

Avatar image for amaan4ever

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for kambion313

@fredwv "Is anybody seriously buying this game just because Bill Russell is in it?" well then, that makes taking him out of the game an easy decision eh? Clearly, EA thought he would sell more copies, otherwise they wouldn't do it. SO whether or not that's the reality, they still need to pay the man.

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