CBS Goes To Court To Let The NFL Know That You Can't Copyright Player Stats

from the and-it's-correct dept

Over the past few years, there have been a series of lawsuits concerning whether or not fantasy baseball operators need to license player info from Major League Baseball. Major League Baseball lost at every level and an eventual appeal to the Supreme Court was turned down. However, it appears that the National Football League wanted to ignore these rulings, and has still been trying to get fantasy sports sites to pony up to use stats and player info -- despite the fact that you cannot copyright facts. CBS is now challenging the NFL on this, and has gone to court to get a declaratory judgment that it doesn't need a license. It's difficult to see this case turning out any differently than the MLB cases, considering the facts of the case are almost identical.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 10:51am

    the NFL

    Its all about the fans . . . right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    John, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 10:55am

    Its

    Why can't they copyright plays like other performances?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Ryan, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 10:59am

    they can

    they can copyright the performance and the plays (if they wanted to)

    But what they can't copyright is fact.

    Even if a movie is copyrighted, i can say "actor X spoke Y lines and had 56 minutes of face time on screen"

    That's a fact, and it can't be copyrighted.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 11:49am

      Re: they can

      So then you could, in theory, describe the plays down the everyone's last movements and you would just be reciting facts.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        ehrichweiss, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 11:57am

        Re: Re: they can

        Theoretically, yes. Practically, no. You see, the hard part is going to be that you're going to have to also state everyone's lines and from that you'll fall under the "no derivative works" clauses and fair use won't cover your ass if you've quoted the entire play word for word.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      eleete, Sep 11th, 2008 @ 4:26am

      Re: they can

      That may not be exactly true in some instances.

      What made this case so difficult is that while a lexicon is a compilation of facts, and you can't copyright facts, Rowling's books are invented facts, hence original and inventive. So a compilation of her invented facts isn't the same as a compilation of facts about World War I or Elvis, or any other actual event or person.

      http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080909014304275

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 11:06am

    I still can't understand why the NFL would do something so stupid as to piss of the fans, the only people that make their life possible... If not for Fantasy a lot of people would stop following football all together. Instead of watching 5 or 6 games on a Sunday I would only maybe watch 1 (my local team). Just seems stupid to go after the fans, maybe they should cut back on player salaries and their overhead wouldn't be so high.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Michial, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 11:58am

      Its all about the fans

      If NFL had any care what's so ever for the fans Jerry Jones would not be allowed to use Taxes collected from the local area to build his new stadium, then come along and charge $16000 or more JUST for the privilage of buying a $400+ per game season ticket....

      When the announced the new stadium was being built, I had hoped to finally get the chance to buy season tickets to see the Cowboys play. Damn was I wrong, even if I could afford $400 per seat per game there is no chance in hell of paying the $16000 per seat for the privilage..

      What he has done for me is turn me against the game completely and now I won't even watch the cowboys on TV.

      I hope the NFL dies and burns in hell, it's lost grasp of the fact that the fans built the game long ago.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        jhunter, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 2:15pm

        Re: Its all about the fans

        They are doing something right, I guarantee they sold the tickets you would have bought to someone else at the price they were asking.

        I thought people here were about free market.

        Seats are a scarce good, they are being sold at a price people are willing to pay (not a price YOU are willing to pay).

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    6fingeredjake, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 11:10am

    What A Coincidence

    The NFL has recently launched their own fantasy football on their official site... I wonder why they waited until now to try and stop others from running fantasy games on their sites?

    I can't think of a $ingle Rea$on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      jhunter, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 2:16pm

      Re: What A Coincidence

      Ironically the fantasy football on nfl.com is really just CBS's fantasy football, it even says "Powered by CBS Sportsline" in the corner.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Dave Zawislak, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 11:19am

    The new sports report - the ideal revision

    A game was played somewhere and one of the teams won unless it was a tie. This was repeated in a number of places.

    No mention of scores, teams, outcomes, cities or anything. Nothing even that it was football. See how long the season will be then.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 11:28am

    what we need

    What we need is a law that says if you make a false copyright claim you may be penalized just like someone would for a copyright violation. There are a lot of gray areas around copyright, so copyright owners would be hesitant to step into them. In practice, most of the gray areas should go to fair use. Objectively, society would benefit if the gray areas are fair use.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Ryan, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 11:33am

    re: what we need

    We need that for a lot of things:

    Rape
    Patents
    DMCA takedowns

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Sep 11th, 2008 @ 8:22am

      Re: re: what we need

      "We need that for a lot of things:

      Rape"

      To knowingly make a false rape report is already a crime and a pretty serious one.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Fushta, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 11:52am

    CBS is Big

    It's nice to see somebody taking on the NFL on this issue. CBS is big enough (i.e. wealthy enough) to take on the financial hit.

    Mike keeps saying that facts cannot be copyrighted (with good reason), but wouldn't it be a surprise to get a judge that thinks otherwise? If the NFL didn't have a game, the facts wouldn't exist. Therefore, since the NFL teams/player "created" the facts, they own the rights to said facts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 12:01pm

      Re: CBS is Big

      so you're saying that even though the nazi's killed millions, we can't record them in history books without the expressed written consent of Adolf Hitler? weird...

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 12:30pm

    This is an area where a declaratory judgement lawsuit seems quite appropriate and where US Copyright Law operates in favor of the position posited by CBS (i.e., mere "facts" per se are not protected by copyright in the US).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    fprintf, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 1:04pm

    Godwin's law has been invoked

    No more comments please. Godwin's law has been invoked.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    y8, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 1:05pm

    Just the facts

    Maybe MLB can sue the NFL for copying the facts from their suite?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Trav, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 1:14pm

    It was not the NFL, it was the NFL Players Association.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Howard_NYC, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 2:48pm

    I am suing the NFL

    the use of "National" in their self-applied title is a falsehood, given how few cities have teams...

    also, the USA was a nation before there was an NFL and therefore has copyright...

    this should be a profitable sort of lawsuit... next up... NBA, NHL, NBC, ...skies the limit... tee hee...

    ...not that I'm a lawyer or another of the lifeforms parasiting off the body economic

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    J-Man, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 4:25pm

    Copyright plays? What about maneuvers?

    Could the US Army copyright a "play" like an L-shaped ambush and then make the Russian army pay in order to use it during their field exercises and operations?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      dweingus, Sep 10th, 2008 @ 8:53pm

      Re: Copyright plays? What about maneuvers?

      Plays and maneuvers are not facts. they are ideas someone thought of.

      QB X threw 13/18 for 151 yards and a TD is a fact, not an idea, and cannot be copyrighted.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This