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US: NFL antitrust suit tossed

 |  April 1, 2015

The National Football League and The Associated Press have defeated a lawsuit filed by freelance professional photographers who cover the NFL and challenged licensing agreements they say violate antitrust and copyright laws.

Southern District Judge Robert Sweet granted motions to dismiss by the NFL and AP, and handed a third defendant a win by granting a prior licensee, Getty Images, its motion to compel arbitration.

The AP took over in 2009, becoming NFL Properties’ exclusive agent and distributor for licensing commercial uses of NFL content to the league’s business partners and a non-exclusive agent for licensing editorial uses of NFL images.

The photographers claimed this stripped them of their ability to sell higher-value commercial licenses and forced them to transfer all of their NFL photos to the AP if they wanted to continue offering commercial licenses.

The photographers sued in antitrust, alleging the licensing agreements violated of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, as well for unjust enrichment.

In granting Getty’s motion in his 129-page opinion, Sweet disagreed with the plaintiffs’ charge that the arbitration clauses were procedurally and substantively unconscionable. He found that claims for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, federal copyright infringement and Sherman Act violations must be arbitrated.


Full Content: The AM Law Litigation Daily


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