The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ended lawsuits brought by college athletes against fantasy sports websites FanDuel and DraftKings with a ruling on Thursday.
The suit was originally brought by three former college football athletes alleging that fantasy sports sites like the defendants infringe on their right to publicity under the law of the state of Indiana. The defendants pointed to provisions Ind. Code §32-36-1-1(c)(1)(B) and (c)(3) that apply as an exception.
The court certified the issue to the Indiana Supreme Court, which ruled there is an exception to the right to publicity that can include college players’ names, pictures and statistics. The Indiana Supreme Court did note that using the players’ names, identities, etc in a way that implies that those players endorsed activities of the websites without their consent could be grounds for recovery.
However, plaintiffs asked the Seventh Circuit to remand with the theory that the fantasy sport site defendants are a “criminal gambling syndicate” and are not able to make use of the statutory exceptions to the right to publicity. The Seventh Circuit looked to the Indiana Supreme Court decision that did not say that the sites violating anti-gambling statutes or that gambling is a recognized exception to the right to publicity.
Since the plaintiffs did not pursue the unauthorized endorsement theory for remand, the Seventh Circuit declared the case ended.