It took eight years, but Jim Brown just got paid. Long embroiled in a lawsuit with EA Sports over the unlicensed use of his likeness, the Hall of Fame running back of the Cleveland Browns just netted $600,000 in exchange for dismissal of claims that stemmed back to Madden 09 where users could play as the 1965 Browns. Rather than using Brown's name, they gave him the old "RB No. 32" treatment, something that didn't fly with the legendary running back.
Here's Engaget with the details:
According to Hagens Berman, the law firm that represents the legendary NFL running back, Brown, 80, will receive a $600,000 compensation from the video game maker in exchange for a dismissal and release of his claims. Back in 2008 the former Cleveland Browns player said EA had asked to feature him in the popular football franchise, but he declined the request.
As a result, he claimed, the developer and publisher opted to create a Madden character resembling his height, skin color, weight and skills. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2009 by a US District Judge in California, who ruled EA was protected by First Amendment rights. But, in 2010, Brown's legal team appealed that decision in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
To put this in perspective, EA Sports typically pays around $500,000 to athletes who make the cover of the ever-popular football game franchise. Similar to lawsuits linked to Ed O'Bannon and the NCAA's use of athletes in its video games, Brown believes he fought for all athletes who believe they're being used to make money for third parties.
EA argued that the use was merely “incidental,” but the court rejected said argument due to the running back's status among the league. Brown’s attorney Robert Carey praised the outcome, saying, “This recovery marks an important victory for plaintiffs in publicity-rights cases, and athletes in particular. Big business should think twice before it turns players’ hard-won identities and achievements into merchandise without permission or compensation.”