EA Sports loses appeal, can face legal action for using college players likeness without permission

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A federal appeals court has ruled that video game maker Electronic Arts must face legal claims by college players that it unfairly used their images without compensation.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the Redwood City, Calif., company can't use the 1st Amendment to shield it from the players' lawsuit.

EA says it plans to appeal. The company had claimed its college-based sports games were works of arts deserving freedom of expression protection.

The court disagreed, ruling the avatars used in the company's basketball and football games were exact replicas of individual players. The court concluded that the company did little to transform the avatars into works of art. The decision upheld a lower court ruling.

EA has already lost its ties with the NCAA ending their relationship over the popular football game series. EA said they will continue to produce the game but without the NCAA's name and logo. The company can still use teams names and insignias, bowl games, conferences and the upcoming College Football Playoff because they operate autonomously from the NCAA.

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