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easportslogoA circuit court of appeals today rejected EA’s claim that it was protected by the First Amendment in a lawsuit regarding player likenesses.

Former NCAA quarterback Sam Keller accused the game giant for using player likenesses without permission. While EA is not allowed to use college athlete names in the game, a majority of the players have the same jersey number, height, weight, hair color, skin tone and home state shown in their in-game bio.

Keller argued that EA violated his rights of publicity — he did not receive compensation — and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California voted 2-1 in favor of Keller.

EA claimed that it has free speech protection to publish the game, however a U.S. District Court said that the video game players too closely mimicked reality, and today’s judges agreed. EA, which recently ended its contract with the NCAA, plans to appeal the decision.

Keller is represented by Seattle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.

Previously on GeekWire: EA’s Madden NFL loses lawsuit, could owe $11 million to original programmer

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