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Landmark Case

Hart v. Elec. Arts, Inc., 717 F.3d 141 (3d Cir. 2013)

Authored by: Michelle Bogre , Nancy Wolff

The Routledge Companion to Copyright and Creativity in the 21st Century

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138999251
eBook ISBN: 9781315658445
Adobe ISBN:


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Ryan Hart was a football player who led the 2002–‚Äč2005 Rutgers University NCAA Men’s Division I Football team as its quarterback. As a collegiate athlete, Hart had to adhere to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) amateurism rules. These rules famously (and controversially) prohibit athletes from receiving pay while enrolled at a university and from permitting the use of their name or picture to directly promote the sale or use of any commercial product or service. Electronic Arts, Inc.’s (EA) highly successful NCAA Football video game series allows users to play against one another as various college football teams. Recent iterations of the game include more than one hundred virtual teams as well as a slew of in-game digital avatars that resemble their real-life counterparts and share their vital and biographical information. This case centers on the 2006 iteration, NCAA Football 2006, in which Rutgers’s quarterback contained various features that linked him to Hart. The avatar was 6’2” and 197 pounds, and physically resembled the real-life Hart. The digital quarterback wore number thirteen, which was also Hart’s number. Moreover, the avatar shared Hart’s home state, home town, and class year.

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