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EA Sports and CLC sought to use college players' names in video games, according to NCAA document

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Electronic Arts and Collegiate Licensing Company sought to use the names and likenesses of college athletes within video games, according to a 2007 NCAA document used by a shared study group meeting on behalf of the companies.

Rosters are already embedded within video games, but "hidden, in a way," according to a statement in the document's meeting summary. The official document also confirms EA's request to represent college athletes in the game "just as they are shown on TV broadcasts.

"This means putting student-athlete names on rosters and on jerseys in the game, and secondarily using facial likenesses (this could be done in stages)."

The document continues with a summary of CLC's position on the matter, which highlighted the possibility of using student-athelete names on in-game jerseys.

"Using the rosters in the games, and maybe the names of student-athletes on jerseys in the game would be worthwhile," a CLC representative noted. "Reasons: 1) EA would put into each game all players on the entire roster and they include over 140 Div. I schools in their games; 2) Rosters are imbedded within the product/game (hidden, in a way) not on the cover/outside when you buy the product; and 3) this would wipe out #rd party infringers -- better to have schools/conferences and the NCAA control this."

Likewise, the NCAA document states that then-company president Myles Brand viewed this attempt to adapt existing rules as a sensible alternative to what currently exists.

"We can not exploit individual student-athletes, but it is not clear what exploitation is -- an overlay to a key play is not a problem (even if it is focused on the quarterback) but we don't want to have a student-athlete holding a phone or a bag of chips. Game environment/plays vs. artificial environment -- don't directly endorse a specific product/service."

Last year, The National Collegiate Athletic Association filed suit against NCAA Football publisher Electronic Arts and the Collegiate Licensing Company following a proposed settlement with former college athletes regarding the use of the players' likenesses in EA's video games. The NCAA's suit reportedly alleged that EA and the CLC breached certain contractual obligations related to maintaining liability insurance to protect against third-party claims and cover attorneys fees incurred defending against those claims.

The EA and CLC settlement would apply to both the antitrust and right-of-publicity suits that the publisher and licenser were facing. Former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon originally filed the antitrust suit, while the right-of-publicity suit was filed by Sam Keller, a former quarterback for Arizona State University and the University of Nebraska.

In September, EA Sports announced it was canceling next year's NCAA Football game, saying it was evaluating the college football franchise's future.

"The ongoing legal issues combined with increased questions surrounding schools and conferences have left us in a difficult position - one that challenges our ability to deliver an authentic sports experience, which is the very foundation of EA Sports games," said Cam Weber, general manager of American football at EA Sports, at the time.