Sports betting

DraftKings and FanDuel win player likeness IP case

Indiana court sides says DFS operator is legally allowed to use player likenesses in their games

The Indiana Supreme Court has sided with DraftKings and FanDuel in a legal case concerning the use of player likenesses and data in daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests.

The dispute centred around Indiana’s right of publicity statute which provides that a person or business “may not use an aspect of a personality’s right of publicity for a commercial purpose without having obtained previous written consent.” Under this law, this right extends for up to 100 years after death.

In 2016, three former college athletes, Akeem Daniels, Cameron Stingily and Nicholas Stoner, filed a lawsuit against the DFS operators, claiming that in using their names, pictures and statistics, DraftKings and FanDuel were violating the right of publicity statute.

The case was initially referred to the US District Court and then the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and in both cases, judges found in favour of DraftKings and FanDuel, leading the plantifs to file this latest appeal.

The statute includes an exception to this rule where the use of this information is of “newsworthy value” and the court examined whether this would apply to information used in DFS contests. Judges ruled that this use of data did conform the newsworthy value test and dismissed the claim.

Summarising the court’s conclusions, Indiana Supreme Court justice Steven David said: “We conclude that Indiana’s right of publicity statute contains an exception for material with newsworthy value that includes online fantasy sports operators’ use of college players’ names, pictures, and statistics for online fantasy contests.”

In a statement provided to Legal Sports Report, DraftKings chief legal officer R. Stanton Dodge welcomed the court’s decision, saying: “We have maintained, and are pleased that the Indiana Supreme Court agrees, that sports fans engaging with statistics online in fantasy sports contests does not violate the publicity rights of athletes under Indiana law.”

Daily fantasy sports | DraftKings | FanDuel | Indiana | Legal | Sports betting