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The Brazilian Superior Court of Justice understands that the violation of soccer player’s image rights in a videogame ends when the product is no longer distributed.

According to a recent decision¹ issued by the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice, the remaining old copies of the video game title Fifa Soccer on the market is not enough to confirm an uninterrupted violation of the image rights of a soccer player who has not authorized its use.

In that case, two soccer players filed a lawsuit against the developer Eletronic Arts for unauthorized use of their images in some versions of Fifa Soccer and Fifa Manager, between 2007 and 2013. In both cases, the São Paulo State Court had dismissed the statute of limitations of three years, because the remaining games are still on the Market and, therefore, it would be a continuous violation. However, the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice understood that this argument could not be interpreted as a violation of the rights, since it would renew the initial term of the status of limitation period indefinitely. Therefore, it would be necessary to investigate when Eletronic Arts stopped distributing, manufacturing, or directly selling the product.

Based on that, the Fourth Panel of the Brazilian Superior Court of Justice partially granted the Special Appeal of Eletronic Arts and determined the São Paulo State Court to review the evidences and find out until when the production, sale, and distribution of each version of the game with the soccer players’ images happened, an confirm if the status of limitation is applicable.

¹REsp 1,861,295

More information available, in Portuguese, at: