Ten former college athletes file lawsuit over likeness use

Tuesday October 7th, 2014

Ten former college football and basketball players have filed a class action lawsuit claiming their images were improperly used without permission, according to Courthouse News Service

ESPN, the four major television networks, eight NCAA athletic conferences and licensing companies with ties to the conferences are all targeted in the lawsuit. 

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The individuals who filed the suit include former Vanderbilt, Tennessee, UT-Chattanooga and Washington football players and former Tennessee State and Maryland​ Eastern Shore basketball players.

From Courthouse News Service

In their complaint they argue that the television networks, athletic conferences and licensing agencies, conspired to exploit rules forbidding student athletes from "competing in the marketplace for the value of their rights to publicity."

In July, the NCAA reportedly eliminated a release granting permission for the NCAA, a school or conference to use athletes' names, images or likenesses (NIL) to promote events without compensating them. Players were allegedly required to sign the release to be eligible for competition. 

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The lawsuit alleges that this release is "void and/or unenforceable" because the wording used is "unconscionable" and "vague."

In August, a judge ruled against the NCAA in the O'Bannon v. NCAA case, deciding that the NCAA violated antitrust law by preventing student-athletes from being compensated for their NIL rights. The case is currently being appealed.

- Molly Geary

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