PHILADELPHIA, May 22 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled 2-1 a former Rutgers University quarterback can sue game maker Electronic Arts for using his image.
In its decision in favor of Ryan Hart Tuesday, the court overturned a 2011 decision by a federal judge in New Jersey, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported. Two judges of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the video game "NCAA Football" is not protected by the First Amendment.
Hart played for Rutgers, New Jersey's state university, in 2004 and 2005.
"The digital Ryan Hart does what the actual Ryan Hart did while at Rutgers: He plays college football, in digital recreations of college football stadiums, filled with all the trappings of a college football game," Judge Joseph Greenaway wrote in the majority opinion. "This is not transformative; the various digitized sights and sounds in the video game do not alter or transform the appellant's identity in a significant way."
Greenaway said Electronic Arts was using Hart's image without his permission.
Judge Thomas Ambro disagreed: "I recognize that Electronic Arts has taken for the 2005 version of 'NCAA Football' what most good Rutgers fans during Ryan Hart's playing days know -- the Rutgers quarterback is Hart, and parlayed that recognition into commercial success."