Hart v. Electronic Arts, Inc., No. 11-3750 (3d Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Hart was a quarterback, player number 13, with the Rutgers University NCAA Men’s Division I Football team, 2002 through 2005, and was required to adhere to the NCAA amateurism rules. These rules state that a collegiate athlete loses his or her “amateur” status if the athlete uses his or her athletics skill (directly or indirectly) for pay in any form in that sport or accepts any remuneration or permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind. Hart was very successful and was included in EA’s successful NCAA Football videogame franchise. In the game NCAA Football 2006, for example, Rutgers’ quarterback, player number 13, is 6’2” tall, weighs 197 pounds and resembles Hart; it shares his home town, team, and class year. Hart sued EA, alleging violation of his right of publicity by appropriating his likeness for use in the NCAA Football series of videogames. The district court dismissed on First Amendment grounds. The Third Circuit reversed, holding that the games did not sufficiently transform Hart’s identity to escape the right of publicity claim.