Is Describing The Sporting Event You're Watching Copyright Infringement? How About Animating It?

from the so-says-some-sports-leagues dept

Last year, we noted that as various professional sports leagues were becoming increasingly ruthless in claiming ownership over any data associated with a sporting event, it seemed as thought (based on the reasoning of those leagues) it could actually be considered to be copyright infringement just to describe the sporting event you were attending. On the face of it, that sounds ridiculous — especially since copyright law is clear that you can’t own facts. But, leave it to sports leagues to deny that basic element of copyright law. In the past, Major League Baseball has been particularly aggressive on this front. For a period of time, they were trying to force sites to stop reporting real-time information on games in progress via graphical applets. Of course, it isn’t too hard to go from there to wondering how a league would respond to a completely virtual recreation of the game in progress… and apparently, just such a debate is already happening.

Boing Boing points us to a discussion over whether an 3D animated replay of a cricket game is considered to be copyright infringement or not. It seems pretty ridiculous to think that it would be — again, it’s just taking the factual information from the game (which can’t be copyrighted) and feeding it into a 3D model, such as a video game. Yet, as these video games get increasingly realistic, you can just imagine that the sports leagues are going to start crying foul (or, rather, demanding payment). Of course, that’s silly. No one who can watch the actual game is going to prefer to watch an animated recreation instead — so all the recreation is doing is attracting more attention to the game from those who are unable to watch it on TV. Yet, in this age, where people are being taught to believe that intellectual property rights mean that you have full control over everything, we’re going to be seeing more and more challenges to things like these animated recreations.

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Comments on “Is Describing The Sporting Event You're Watching Copyright Infringement? How About Animating It?”

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ConceptJunkie (profile) says:

Re: Your

It’s not picky, it’s fundamental English grammar. I’m sure it was a typo, because I do the same thing sometimes and I certainly know the difference.

It’s more a sign of the pervasive lack of proofreading. Editing is a task that’s been almost completely ignored on the Internet. I mean, there’s too much information to put out to make sure you typed it in correctly! Heck even print editors are too busy making sure the material adheres to their political agenda or contains enough smut to bother checking spelling or grammar.

lavi d (profile) says:

TV or not TV

from those who are unable to watch it on TV

Well, in light of MLBs recent negotiations with Direct TV, which could put many televised baseball games behind a “pay wall”, this may become more of a bone of contention.

“Major League Baseball is close to signing a $100 million deal to make
DirecTV – a company serving less than 15% of video households – the
exclusive provider of its “Extra Innings” package that gives viewers
access to EVERY Major League game nationwide. While the deal clearly
enriches MLB and its owners, millions of baseball’s biggest fans will
suffer, forced to choose between their video provider and watching

Hulser says:

Re: TV or not TV

While there’s nothing wrong with baseball fans petitioning MLB not to sign this exclusive deal with DrecTV, I think it’s well within MLB’s right to do so. It’s their content after all.

I would agree that MLB doesn’t have the right to control the facts of a game or even a 3D representation of those facts, but I do think they have complete control over the original content itself. If they want to alienate baseball fans and drive the game as a whole into the dirt by charging more money to watch the games on TV, then that’s up to them. Baseball fans may not like the DirecTV deal, but it’s in a completely different category than the topic of the post.

ehrichweiss says:

one problem..

The only problem I really see with animating the game is that it would either:
a) be too hard to do without a camera, which are often forbidden at games, or
b) rely on camera footage that likely does fall under copyright.

The problem is in “b”, once you have copyright on a work, you can forbid any derivative works and that would include, whether we like it or not, putting it into a computer that would then turn it into an animation.

I could be missing something in how it’s converted, so if it’s barely of the quality of 3D animation from the early 90’s with no character animation(no arms/legs moving..back then just attaching “3D” to your graphic design studio made you worth a lot of $$$) then it’s probably pretty safe.

Sanguine Dream says:

It's all about money...

The sports leagues just want to make sure they control every aspect of the sport.

And at the same time they may be trying to protect themselves from hefty lawsuits. Comment #2 mentions the possibility of an exclusive deal between MLB and Directv. Imagine Directv’s surprise when they discover that after paying so much for exclusive rights (complete with a contract) that someone else is just broadcasting it for free (or at least really cheap).

The sports leagues want absolute control so that they can ensure that only they can profit from the sport. And you can best believe they are watching the current Google/YouTube vs. Viacom battle.

Overcast says:

First, I noted the spelling trolls with corrections have failed to make complete sentences.

After that, I thought about it some and decided; I don’t care what or how they do it. It’s REAL easy for me to simply turn off and tune out every sporting event in the history of the world. They can stick it, their advertisers can stick it. If I wanna watch a ballgame, I guess I’ll just go in person; or not at all. So to the various major leagues: you can control your rights; as I can control my rights to the channel and/or power button on the TV. With a DVR, I’ll never be stuck again watching some basketball game because nothing else is on!

In any case, it sucks to see everyone on this ‘copyright’ bandwagon. Makes one want to just play Piano or paint themselves. Not only is it more rewarding really, but unless the copyright cops are at my house; they won’t know if the sheet music I have is illegal or not.

In general; I’m starting to get an attitude about all this. Protective over your ‘perceived’ rights? Fine, keep your lousy content.

**disclaimer: there may be spelling and/or grammatical errors above; Note, I don’t give a flying f^$k.

Rstr5105 says:

re # 3

Actually, no, the 3d representation would not require a camera to be at the game, although there would inevitably(sp?) be some “loss”.

All it could simply be a generic 3d model of the stadium, and a bunch of models of the players that do not actually make any distinctions. Then when a player is pitching, at bat etc etc the site(presumably) would just put a little text line up “Now pitching, at bat etc etc: ” and show the model moving accordingly.

Haven’t you ever played any sports games?

Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Sporting rights

Maybe it’s time to admit that sporting events are all about the information–that’s what the event organizers are selling, not any expression of that information. That’s why they want to claim ownership of that information and control over how it is distributed, even though copyright law doesn’t allow them to do that.

Wilson (user link) says:

How about re-enactments?

I distinctly remember watching one episode of a series called “TV around the world” that showed an Italian TV station which, not having the rights to show the goals scored in the local soccer games, chose to re-enact the goals with actors.

If doing an animation is infringement, I can’t see how a re-enactment would be any better. But it does sound ridiculous.

AngryYoung Man says:

baseball recreations

Recreations of games have been around since the early 20th Century when mechanical scoreboards in public places recreated games in towns and and cities. Gamecasts are just a high-tech version.

This issue, which also involves the use of stats by fantasy baseball companies, comes down to the long-time polite fiction of baseball reporting. Games are treated as public events and, therefore, news, which makes them worthy of reporting, not as private entertainments, which there are, but which would make them unworthy of reporting. Only to its long-term detriment will MLB strip away this fiction for its short-term monetary gain.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

Back to cricket

IT would be virtually impossible to make a good 3D simulation of the cricket match without at least the HawkEye data and the batsmans position. Then there is the location of the bll on the ba (thick edge, thin edge, middle, toe), wether the ball hit his pads, glove, and so on. From the edge of an oval this is not easy to see (and sometimes it is diffiulteven using visible and IR cameras in close up views), and from the bolwer entering his delivery stride to the batsman hitting (or not) the ball is usually over within 2 seconds for a slow bowler. THis makes it very difficult to record the information by any means other than a video camera. Since cameras are often not allowed into ovals, you would have to break the terms of entry to get he information. It would be hard to extractt he data from the TV footage owing to the use of multiple cameras during the delivery.

I would be impressed by a 3d simulation of an over of cricket which matches the trajectory of the ball and the behavoir of the players accurately, even if the graphics were not too good (stick men for evryone except the batsman, no staduim graphics, and so on)

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