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Author Topic: Appeals court dismisses Vandy, UT athletes' case seeking pay: "legal fantasy"  (Read 127 times)

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Three judges on the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals released their ruling saying the case brought by 10 former football and basketball athletes was based in "legal fantasy."

"The plaintiffs claim that, under Tennessee statutory and common law, college players have a 'right of publicity' in their names and images as they might appear in television broadcasts of football or basketball games in which the plaintiffs participate," the court's opinion reads. "But that argument is a legal fantasy. Specifically, the plaintiffs’ statutory claim under the Tennessee Personal Rights Protection Act is meritless because that Act expressly permits the use of any player’s name or likeness in connection with any 'sports broadcast.' "

The athletes, many of whom attended Vanderbilt University or the University of Tennessee, filed a more than $5 million lawsuit in 2014 saying their images were improperly used without their permission by broadcast networks, including ESPN, and eight NCAA conferences, including the SEC.

The appeals court ruling affirms a previous judgment by Chief U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp in Nashville dismissing the case.

"We are pleased with the result," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said in an email...

"The theory here is that if, say, ESPN shows a banner for 'Tostitos' at the bottom of the screen during a football game, then consumers might become confused as to whether all the players on the screen endorse Tostitos," the court's ruling reads. "Suffice it to say that ordinary consumers have more sense than the theory itself does."
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