Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Baseball Appeal; MLB Still Doesn't Get To Own Facts
from the good-news dept
Good news from the Supreme Court this week, as it has decided not to take up Major League Baseball’s appeal over the question of whether it gets to “own” player names and stats. As you may recall, Major League Baseball had created a lucrative side business for itself “licensing” out player names and stats to fantasy baseball providers. This actually made them quite a bit of money, until one of those fantasy baseball companies put two and two together and realized that player names and statistics are public information and not subject to copyright (you can’t copyright “facts”). MLB flipped out at the possibility of losing this revenue stream and sued, claiming ownership of all game data.
As MLB realized that claiming ownership of game data was never going to cut it in court, it changed the story somewhat, saying that it was really about the players’ right of publicity, which also (somehow) included owning their stats. A district court quickly saw through this argument and told MLB that it had no case. Rather than admitting defeat (and recognizing that more widespread use of baseball info should bring more fans into the game), MLB appealed. The appeals court wasted little time in again telling MLB it had no case. But those folks at MLB are nothing if not stubborn. So, they asked the full appeals court to rehear the case and were turned down
So, again, rather than recognizing that perhaps all of these courts (and common sense) had a point, MLB appealed to the Supreme Court, who (as noted) turned them down. If you’re keeping score at home (and, we’re not claiming ownership of the score), that now makes 4 – 0 for the courts over MLB, and I think we’ve pretty much hit the 9th inning, as there are no more appeals. The only thing MLB can hope for now is for a different circuit to somehow (unlikely) come to a different conclusion and the Supreme Court to revisit the issue. But that seems about as likely as, say, the Seattle Mariners somehow coming back to win the World Series this year. Stranger things have happened, but not very often.