Yahoo Gets Aggressive: Wants Court To Make It Clear That It Doesn't Need To Pay To Use Player Names/Stats

from the this-again? dept

Recent court rulings have made it clear that sports leagues have overreached (by a long shot) in trying to force online fantasy sports sites to license player info. The courts have pointed out that player names and stats are factual information, not subject to copyright. Now, this has resulted in many fantasy sports sites to skip renewing any licensing deals. The NFL Players Assocation, despite already having lost such a case, still went to Yahoo and threatened it with a lawsuit over this issue. It appears Yahoo decided to be proactive and sued for a declaratory judgment that its uses of player info was not in violation. It's an aggressive move by Yahoo -- but it also shows (reasonably) that the company believes that it's likely to win (and, perhaps, that it was worried about whatever district the NFL PA would have filed its own lawsuit in). Either way, it's yet another chance to remind sports leagues that they don't get to copyright factual information.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 6:23pm

    You have to wonder, only because the intent of a "fantasy sports" leagues isn't just to present data (that would be news oriented) but rather to create a profitable game off of it.

    It is certainly a questionable area.

     

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  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jun 4th, 2009 @ 6:28pm

    So what?

    "You have to wonder, only because the intent of a "fantasy sports" leagues isn't just to present data (that would be news oriented) but rather to create a profitable game off of it."

    Yeah, and Avalon Hill had a long run of making games based on factual data. Do the estates of Hitler, Napoleon, and Lee deserve a cut?

    There's some kind of nictating membrane that covers people's (or at least, AC's) brains when the concept of someone making money enters the picture.

     

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  3.  
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    GregSJ (profile), Jun 4th, 2009 @ 6:37pm

    Precedent

    Take 2 (for some reason all of my comments keep getting held for moderation.)
    Yahoo did indeed file the suit to get jurisdiction of their choice. The MN court has already heard this issue and held against the NFL (CBS Interactive, Inc. v. Nat. Football League Players Inc., 70:08-cv-0597-ADM-SRN (D. Minn.))
    Whereas the NFL won a similar lawsuit in Florida (Gridiron.com, Inc. v. Nat'l Football League, Player's Ass'n, Inc., 106 F. Supp. 2d 1309, 1315 (S.D. Fla. 2000))
    Thus given the NFL's threat in seems clear that Yahoo wanted to file first to get a jurisdiction with better precedent.

     

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  4.  
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    Randal Burgess, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 6:44pm

    Players Associations, Not Leagues

    It's not the sports leagues that are involved, it's the player associations. Both MLB Media (on behalf of their contract with the MLBPA) and the NFLPA are the ones who claim that their info is copyrightable. To my knowledge, neither MLB or the NFL are getting involved directly with these arguments.

     

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  5.  
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    GregSJ (profile), Jun 4th, 2009 @ 6:57pm

    Re: Players Associations, Not Leagues

    Very true. That is what I deserve for being lazy. (I had hoped the case citations were evidence enough.)

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 7:01pm

    The headline:

    Yahoo Gets Aggressive: Wants Court To Make It Clear That It Doesn't Need To Pay To Use Player Names/Stats

    Your lead in the article:

    Recent court rulings have made it clear that sports leagues have overreached (by a long shot) in trying to force online fantasy sports sites to license player info.

    So whats the case about?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 7:11pm

    Re: So what?

    Public battles are not the same as private sporting events.

    Nice try, but pretty much an epic fail (Lee would be proud).

     

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  8.  
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    Josh O. (profile), Jun 4th, 2009 @ 7:24pm

    Re: Re: So what?

    How is it a private sporting event if it is broadcast on television, often nationally.

     

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  9.  
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    Esahc (profile), Jun 4th, 2009 @ 8:16pm

    Re:

    Will you please explain to me how this is a questionable area and why it even matters that they want to make a profit?

     

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  10.  
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    Esahc (profile), Jun 4th, 2009 @ 8:29pm

    Re:

    "It appears Yahoo decided to be proactive and sued for a declaratory judgment that its uses of player info was not in violation."

    I like reading.

     

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  11.  
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    Hulser (profile), Jun 4th, 2009 @ 8:35pm

    Re: Re: So what?

    Public battles are not the same as private sporting events.

    1) He didn't say they were the same. He made a legitimate comparison between two similar concepts. Do you really not understand the difference between "similar" and "same"?

    2) Whether or not the event which generated the factual information is public or private or whether it was protected by copyright is completely irrelevent to the situation. What's important is that the Yahoo is using factual information which, as the TD post clearly pointed out, is not protected by copyright. How the factual information came to be or if it's used in a subsequent commercial venture doesn't matter according to the law.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 8:44pm

    Either way, it's yet another chance to remind sports leagues that they don't get to copyright factual information.

    Importantly, the action filed by Yahoo does not involve copyright law except to the very limited extent it argues that federal copyright law preempts state law regarding the "right of publicity".

    See: http://www.bannerwitcoff.com/_docs/C-Y09-1272N.pdf

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 9:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: So what?

    1) They aren't any more similar than plain white toast and a glass of champagne.

    2) Using only the data wouldn't be an issue, but there is the issue of player names, league name (which is copyright and marketing partners pay big to be part of), etc. Creating an NFL Fantasy League suggests at least a little bit that the NFL may be involved, which they are not. Using the NFL name and the player data isn't a clear "free" use.

    As there are conflicting judgements in different districts, it is clear that this issue is far from as cut and dry as you suggest it is.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 9:29pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: So what?

    NFL troll. Copyright and TM are different.

     

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  15.  
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    iyogi (profile), Jun 4th, 2009 @ 10:08pm

    RE:

    it's yet another chance to remind sports leagues that they don't get to copyright factual information.

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 4th, 2009 @ 11:54pm

    I'm going to copyright the fact that 2 + 2 = 4. If anyone else uses that fact or even states it (even in a classroom) they're violating copyright.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 5:38am

    Re:

    You cannot copyright a fact. That's the point, and you missed it by a mile. The intent behind the use of a fact is irrelevant. You can use any fact you want without fear of legal action, because facts are not the sort of thing you can put under a legal monopoly like copyright. You cannot be sued for libel because of a fact, because it is true. Think of it this way: a person's batting average is NOT a creative endeavor and cannot be copyrighted.

     

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  18.  
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    Hulser (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 6:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: So what?

    1) They aren't any more similar than plain white toast and a glass of champagne.

    Historic battles and sporting events are similar in that they generate factual information which can't be copyrighted. You're statement that these two types of events are not the same is irrelevent because the original point was not that they were themselves the same, but that they generates the same type of information. If you want to provide lists of other food or beverage items that are not the same, fine. But it's ignoring the point.

    2) Using only the data wouldn't be an issue, but there is the issue of player names, league name (which is copyright and marketing partners pay big to be part of), etc.
    How much "marketing partners" pay the NFL is irrelevent to the legality and morality of whether the NFL has the right to charge for these services. The whole point of the lawsuit is to question the legality of those requirements that NFL give permission to use factual information.


    Creating an NFL Fantasy League suggests at least a little bit that the NFL may be involved, which they are not.

    I think it would suggest an affiliation only to the proverbial moron in a hurry.


    Using the NFL name and the player data isn't a clear "free" use.

    In my opinion it is and, more importantly, it should be. Do you disagree that it should be?


    As there are conflicting judgements in different districts, it is clear that this issue is far from as cut and dry as you suggest it is.

    True enough. However, I believe that the "ownership" of factual information was never the intent of copyright and that the NFL's and MLB's use of copyright to attempt to control all aspects of the games, including claiming copyright on player stats, is a corruption of the law that should be corrected.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 5th, 2009 @ 10:12am

    So many of the above comments seem premisted on the mistaken notion that this case is about copyright.

    Let me say it one last time and with emphasis'

    This case, at least at this point in time, has absolutely nothing to do with copyright law. This case is predicated solely under state law pertaining to the "right of publicity", a legal doctrine separate and distinct from copyright law.

    All the harping in the world about copyright law is irrelevant in relation to this case. There is a link provided above for the complaint filed by Yahoo. It is useful to read it before launching off with invective directed at copyright law.

     

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  20.  
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    Hulser (profile), Jun 5th, 2009 @ 12:02pm

    Re:

    Copyright is relevent to this discussion because it is one of the tools that the NFL uses to overreach its control over information. People aren't upset about which legal method the NFL, MLB, and other similar organizations attempt to extort other companies into paying them money for using information that should be free. They're upset about the extortion itself.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 7th, 2009 @ 3:49pm

    Re: Re:

    Copyright may be relevant to a discussion of this article if the lawsuit that is noted involved the assertion of copyright against one party by the other. However, such is not the case in this lawsuit. Hence, trying to turn this matter into a copyright law thread if off the mark.

     

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


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