Ex-players suing NFL Films over use of footage

August 21, 2013 – 2:00 am by Ryan Phillips

John Riggins

A group of 10 former NFL players have filed a lawsuit that demands the league and it’s production group to pay for using footage of them. Five of the men are Hall of Famers.

On Tuesday the group – that includes Curley Culp and John Riggins – filed a class-action suit in U.S. District Court in New Jersey in an attempt to reclaim payment for the use of their names, images and likenesses. They claim the footage used on NFL Network and to promote the league was used without the ex-players’ consent. Fellow Hall of Famers Dave Casper, Tom Mack and Ron Yary are also involved.

The 81-page filing was obtained by the Associated Press and the following excerpt sums up the complaint:

“NFL Films has never obtained authorization from retired players to use their images to be, as NFL Films puts it, the ‘backbone’ of the NFL Network. NFL Films’ conduct goes far beyond simply use of images without consent. It continues to this day to strike licensing business deals, in New Jersey, affirmatively, and falsely, misrepresenting that it has obtained all former players’ consent to appear in its promotional materials. The NFL does likewise.”

The suit also notes that in 1993 all players’ contracts began to include clauses that granted the NFL authority to use their names, images and likenesses to promote the league. But that language was never included for the players attached to the suit.

Mike Bass, Willie Buchanon, Roman Gabriel, Joe Kapp and Phil Villapiano are all also involved in the complaint and you can bet other former players will get in on it too.

The complaint doesn’t ask for a specific sum as compensation, but it does note that in 2002 NFL Films was making $50 million per year in licensing revenue, and that only applied to third parties such as television networks.

The NCAA and video game developer Electronic Arts are currently facing similar lawsuits in California.

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