SIGNIFICANCE: HART V. ELECTRONIC ARTS
Case Name: Hart v. Electronic Arts
Citation: 717 F.3d 141 (3rd Cir. 2013)
Topics: Right of Publicity
Former college football player Ryan Hart claimed videogame company Electronic Art violated his right to publicity by using his likeness and biographical information in a game. To balance an individual’s right to prevent the use of his identity for another’s commercial gain with protecting videogames as a form of expression, the court applied the transformative use test, which looks at the purpose and character of the work in question and whether it adds new meaning.
The court ruled that the availability of a function to alter Hart’s appearance in the videogame was not sufficient to pass the transformative use test. In fact, being able to “modify the avatar counts for little where the appeal of the game lies in users’ ability to play ‘as, or alongside’ their preferred players or team.”