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“For example, an unauthorized biography of Keller, which included photographs of him wearing his college football uniform or playing college football, would be strictly prohibited,” the MPAA’s attorneys wrote the appeals court. “So too would a motion picture about a fictional college football player that incorporated historical footage of actual college football games and named actual college football players.”

Keller’s attorney dismisses the threats of an artistic Armegeddon if EA ends up owing the players for using their images.

“There is a big difference between those examples and a video game based in realism,” said Steve Berman, one of Keller’s attorneys. “They’re whole game is realism. Realism is the opposite of creative expression.”

Keller has his share of supporters, too. Players unions of all major professional sports leagues in the United States back Keller as do the estates of Marley and Steinbeck

“EA’s infringing use of the athletes’ personas is tantamount to stealing, and opens the door for others to freely circumvent the statutory and common law right of publicity of any individual in the future,” wrote lawyers for the Steinbeck estate, the Screen Actors Guild and several other organizations representing authors and actors. “The result can be ruinous to a performers’ career and financial interests, as well as to their families’.”

If Keller prevails, many of the myriad lawyers involved in the case and legal scholars following it closely say the case could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Keller said in an interview Thursday from Scottsdale, Ariz. where he lives and manages a hotel bar that he never envisioned his complaint becoming so far reaching.

“The goal wasn’t for it to get so big,” Keller said. “The goal was to change what’s going on in college sports, to change the behavior of the NCAA.”