Video Game Law Blog

July 20, 2006

Several professional poker players, including Chris 'Jesus"? Ferguson say they will file a lawsuit against the World Poker Tournament organizers today. The players are upset because they say the tournament organizers used their names and likenesses in a video game without any compensation. The players did sign waivers, but they claim the casinos colluded to prevent players from participating in tournaments unless all players waived their rights to compensation in these circumstances. 

Personality rights lawsuits are becoming more common in the video game industry. For example, last year, Vili the Warrior, a mascot for the University of Hawaii, sued EA for $75,000.  He claimed that EA used his character without permission on NCAA Football '06.

Another good example is the Guy Game lawsuit. In that case an anonymous teenager won a injunction against Topheavy for including topless footage of her in The Guy Game.  She had been videotaped while competing publicly in a topless contest during spring break.  The problem was that she was a minor at the time of the contest, so her lawyers successfully argued that the waiver she signed was void (despite the fact that she provided ID at the time which showed she was an adult). 

Every publisher will want to get waivers signed by people who appear in their games. But the Topheavy lawsuit and the poker lawsuit show that getting waivers might not be enough it's also important to confirm that the waivers are enforceable.
Coverage of the poker lawsuit at (Mercury News)