Some days you just shake your head in disbelief. A year ago, we wrote about a Bulgarian chess federation was demanding
that websites stop broadcasting what moves were happening in its chess tournament, claiming it was a copyright violation. As we noted at the time, you're not supposed to be able to copyright facts, such as chess moves, otherwise it would make playing chess itself pretty damn difficult. It appears that this year, the organizers of this Bulgarian chess festival are taking it up a notch. Jeff T
alerts us to the stunning news that they have actually sued a German website for reporting what moves were happening
The article goes a bit more into the legal strategy, and highlights the insanity of certain copyright laws. As we've discussed in the past, Europe has "database rights" -- a concept the US has (mostly) rejected -- which do grant the ability to apply copyrights on collections
of facts, under the slightly warped theory that this kind of incentive is needed to aggregate those facts into a database. Of course, research has been done on this for years
, and they prove, without a doubt, that database rights appear to hold back
database businesses! Comparing identical industries in the US (without database rights) and Europe (with database rights) shows that the US industries are significantly larger
. Thus, if the whole point of the database right is to encourage creation of more databases, it has empirically failed.
And... on top of that, it leads to absolutely nonsensical lawsuits like the one above. The database right is most certainly not intended to protect a list of chess moves. It's intended (though, it fails on this) to provide incentives to create databases. The idea that people would not play chess without a database right is obviously ridiculous. But, the Bulgarian chess folks are insisting the law is on their side. If the case were filed in the US it would be tossed pretty quickly. Hopefully the same is true in Germany as well. There is simply no legitimate reason to block reporting on the factual nature of chess moves.