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Thread: Chris Spielman Sues Ohio State Over Use of Athletes' Images

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    Administrator cdj's Avatar
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    Chris Spielman Sues Ohio State Over Use of Athletes' Images


    Former Ohio State Buckeye great Chris Spielman has sued the Ohio State University over the use of player likenesses. At the heart of the issue is tOSU associating the images of players with corporate logos/sponsorships that the former player did not receive the ability for compensation or approval. Via The Columbus Dispatch:

    That’s why it was considered such stunning news Friday that Spielman is the plaintiff in a class-action suit filed in federal court in Columbus against Ohio State University on behalf of all former and current Buckeyes football players.

    The lawsuit takes issue with 64 banners hung in Ohio Stadium featuring players’ likenesses and a corporate logo for Honda on them, but it also mentions jerseys, photographs, signatures and more.

    Spielman also said attaching his name to Honda puts him in a difficult situation given a separate sponsorship deal he has with a local Mazda dealership.

    Spielman said he is fine with Ohio State using his name and likeness for non-commercial purposes.

    “You can slap your name and logo on banners all you want,” he said. “But as soon as you slap a corporate logo on there, I have rights, in my opinion, to say yes or no, or to negotiate that.”

    The lawsuit also names sports marketing company IMG College, LLC.; WME Entertainment; DBA International Management Group; Honda; and Nike. Spielman’s main issue is with IMG, Duncan said, which represents Ohio State in negotiations with such companies as Nike.


    Numerous plaintiffs in the lawsuit including Spielman and Archie Griffin have stated any money won as part of the suit would either go to the Athletic Department or towards charity.


    It is worth stating that Ohio State is believed to be one of the programs that pulled usage of their trademarks for the cancelled EA SPORTS College Football 15 (unofficial title) following the settlement of lawsuits regarding the use of player likenesses in previous versions of the game in fall 2013. Courtesy Kotaku and Owen Good:

    If College Football 15 could have shipped, with them, the depth of customization—and the ability to share uniforms, complex logos and user-built stadia—could have soothed the sting of conferences like the Pac-12 and Big Ten pulling their trademarks from the series, and a big program—believed to be Ohio State—exiting it altogether.


    The Buckeyes' rumored willingness to remove trademarks from a product that ultimately resolved their issues regarding allegations of using player likenesses while then utilizing exact likenesses and images for commercial and corporate gain is astounding shortsightedness and hypocrisy, even for a major athletic department.

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    Administrator cdj's Avatar
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    My initial thought when hearing of this lawsuit was "we're never going to get NCAA Football back." However, after some thought perhaps this will be the impetus for schools & conferences to determine a way to compensate current and former players for use of their likeness/images. If they don't get something figured out soon, more of these lawsuits will emerge versus a lot of athletic departments across the country.

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    I have no issue with this. Once a player has graduated their contract/scholarship is complete.

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    Administrator cdj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bdoughty View Post
    I have no issue with this. Once a player has graduated their contract/scholarship is complete.
    I don't either, for the same reason plus it would seem Spielman & the other plaintiffs aren't in it for the money as it appeared O'Bannon, Keller, Hart, et al. and their attorneys were. These guys worked with tOSU for eight months to no avail, so they tried to handle it outside the legal system, but it appears the school & other defendants called their bluff and lost.

  5. #5
    Not to mention how tacky the banners were. The sponsors text is larger than the players last name.

    Last edited by bdoughty; 07-15-2017 at 09:45 PM.

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    Heisman Rudy's Avatar
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    I have no problem with this either. It seems like a very reasonable request. I can't imagine why the school would even fight this. They wouldn't have a legal leg to stand on. Spielman loves his alma mater too. Not like this is some revenge thing.

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    Heisman jaymo76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdj View Post
    My initial thought when hearing of this lawsuit was "we're never going to get NCAA Football back." However, after some thought perhaps this will be the impetus for schools & conferences to determine a way to compensate current and former players for use of their likeness/images. If they don't get something figured out soon, more of these lawsuits will emerge versus a lot of athletic departments across the country.
    I've been in the camp since the beginning that we will NOT see NCAA College Football back ever and if we do it would be a shell of itself with only a portion of teams and licenses. In the ln limbo state we are in no game can be made and if a deal to compensate comes though there is no chance all of the stadiums and teams will be licensed. A CFB game with say 50 real teams and a handful of stadiums... I would not buy regardless of my love for the game.

    With continued negative media like this, the NCAA series continues to sink further and further down.

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    Resident Lawyer of TGT CLW's Avatar
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    This one actually/probably has more merit than the EA suit and there is a LONG history of "celebrities" successfully suing a company for using a picture of them to advertise their products/service.

    The only real defense Ohio State has is what does the contract/scholarship say in terms of the rights of the school to use a person's "likeness" in future promotional materials after graduation/leaving school.

    The advertisers have the same defense potentially as Ohio State + a potential counter-claim/lawsuit against Ohio State for any fraud/false representations made by the university to Honda/others that the school had the right to use the "likeness(es)" at issue.

    This suit has absolutely ZERO impact on the "future" of NCAA video games (other than it just shows the current liberal political winds are in favor of paying the student athletes).

    College sports video games can comeback if: (1) NCAA/schools allow players to be "compensated" for the use of their "likeness" in video games. It could be as simple as a free copy of the game and the player signs a binding contract saying I get a copy of the game (or other compensation) in exchange EA/game maker can use my likeness for the video game. This would allow EA to potentially scan players and put their actual names in the game etc.... If a player refuses the free game (compensation) they simply are not put in the game at all.; (2) Some other game maker rolls the dice and is willing to spend the litigation $ and hope the Supreme Court rules in their favor (not likely).

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