The Right of Publicity and the Student-Athlete

Elon Law Review, Vol. 7: 537, 2015

14 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2015

Date Written: April 2, 2015


This Elon Law Review article sets out the status and development of the landmark case of former UCLA basketball star, Ed O'Bannon who sued the NCAA. O'Bannon's antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA challenges the right of the NCAA and its licensing partners to commercially use student-athletes' images and likeness without compensating them.

This writer discusses the law of the right of publicity, that is a protectible property interest in one's name, identity or persona. Every person, celebrity or non-celebrity has the right to own, protect and commercially exploit one's identity.

In order for the plaintiff's to prevail on their Section I antitrust claim, they must show that (1) there was an agreement; (2) the agreement unreasonably restrains trade under a rule of reason analysis; and (3) the restraint affects interstate commerce.

On August 8, 2014, Chief Judge Claudia Wilken of the Northern District of California ruled in favor of the Plaintiffs in O'Bannon, holding that the NCAA rules violate antitrust laws. She issued an injunction that prevents the NCAA from enforcing any rules or bylaws that would prohibit member schools and conferences from offering a limited share of revenue generated from the use of players' names, images and likeness over and above a full grant-in-aid.

The O'Bannon case is now on appeal in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In other words, stay tuned.

Keywords: O'Bannon v. NCAA, Right of Publicity, Antitrust, NCAA, Paying Student Athletes

Suggested Citation

Johnson, James A., The Right of Publicity and the Student-Athlete (April 2, 2015). Elon Law Review, Vol. 7: 537, 2015, Available at SSRN:

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics