Former NFL player Michael E. Davis—perhaps better known as Tony Davis—has filed a lawsuit against video gaming giant Electronic Arts, alleging his likeness was used in EA’s Madden NFL 09 video game, but that he was never compensated for it. And the suit isn’t just about Davis: he’s seeking class action status on behalf of roughly 6,000 retired NFL players who claim their likenesses were used in the game, but were never compensated.
Madden NFL 09 included a feature that enabled players to tap into over 140 “historic teams from earlier eras of the NFL. Players on the historic teams aren’t shown with names and do not necessarily wear the same numbers as they did in real life; however, many of the players characteristics are drawn directly from real former NFL players. According to the suit, these traits include height, weight, and approximate skill level, and these traits were “so close to the living player’s characteristics that the consumers of the game could readily discern what player was being represented.”
News of the suit was first reported by gaming Web site IGN. The suit seeks unspecified damages as well as all profits related to the retired players’ likenesses.
This suit isn’t the first time Madden NFL has been targeted over player royalties. In 2008, retired football players won $28 million from the NFL Players Union over undistributed royalties the union received from the use of players’ likenesses in a number of products, including Madden NFL.