Indianapolis, Indiana – Attorneys for Plaintiffs, Akeem Daniels, Cameron Stingily, and Nicholas Stoner, Inc., filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana alleging Defendants, FanDuel, Inc., and DraftKings, Inc. used the likeness of the three Plaintiffs and alleged a Right of Publicity claim.The decision was made by the district court granting the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss the case.
The Defendants are fantasy sports websites that run collegiate fantasy football games, among other sports. The Plaintiffs were collegiate football players whose names appeared on the websites as players available for selection for a user’s fantasy team.
Plaintiffs filed suit claiming that Defendants violated their rights of publicity under Indiana’s Right of Publicity statute by using their name and likenesses on the websites without first obtaining permission. Defendants moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The Defendants put forward three main defenses: that certain statutory exemptions in the Indiana statute removed protection for the Plaintiffs, that First Amendment free speech allowed the use, and that federal copyright law preempted Plaintiff’s claims.
The Court ruled in favor of the Defendants’ motion to dismiss based on the statutory exemptions in the Indiana statute. The Court found that the Defendants’ use of Plaintiff’s names fell into the “newsworthy” and “public interest” exemptions to the state Right of Publicity statute. For the sake of thoroughness, the Court continued their analysis and rejected the other statutory exemptions put forward, as well as the First Amendment and federal preemption defenses.