Major League Baseball And Their Data Ownership Problem

from the good-luck-with-that-one... dept

Late last year we wrote about Major League Baseball and their ridiculous belief that they owned all the data associated with a Major League Baseball game. They were trying to get other sites to stop showing what was happening in a game during real time – despite the fact that you can’t copyright facts and that there’s a legal precedent in that the NBA couldn’t stop Motorola from paging people real time basketball scores. Well, now the situation is going to get a bit more complex, and you can bet that MLB won’t be happy. Earlier this week, the San Francisco Giants and SBC announced that they’re setting up free WiFi around SBC Park and anyone can log in during the games. So, BoingBoing is asking if it’s legal to use your computer camera to film the game and offer it on the internet. It certainly becomes quite a fine line. WiFi Networking News takes a deeper look at some of the issues. Knowing MLB’s stance on the use of plain old data, you can bet they won’t want people “rebroadcasting” video – but it may be impossible for them to stop it. This does, however, illustrate some of the issues with current intellectual property law. Where on the spectrum are things allowed? Can I describe what’s happening during a baseball game to someone over my mobile phone? What if that phone call is actually to a speaker phone in a room with a bunch of people? What if it’s going onto a website where anyone can stream it and listen to it? What if I’m just snapping still pictures with my camera phone and uploading them to a blog? It’s not exactly clear why one of these should be illegal while the others shouldn’t. MLB would probably claim that they’re all illegal – but that seems silly. I know their argument is that the local broadcast contract is where most of their money comes from, but letting people broadcast their own games could be a great way to attract many new fans to the game. Imagine being able to listen to the game as viewed and called by a Cubs fan on a rooftop across the street from Wrigley or a Bleacher Creature in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium. It would be a lot more entertaining than the folks who currently call games.

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