Wisconsin Sports League Sends Newspapers Invoices For Live Blogging

from the just-try-to-charge dept

The NY Times checked in with its own version of the story about sports leagues restricting what fans can do in the stands to share their experience — a story that we’ve already covered. However, Romenesko points us to a little tidbit down at the bottom of the NYT article, talking about other leagues that have tried to do something similar, mentioning that a sports league in Wisconsin went so far as to send invoices to newspapers it felt were “live blogging” its events. We had written about this dispute a few months ago, but I hadn’t heard about the invoices before.

Every newspaper who received an invoice smartly ignored it, but the whole concept is ridiculous. The league is claiming that such a live blogging of what’s happening at the sports event counts as a “broadcast” and thus should be required to pay the same fees that, say, local radio stations pay to broadcast the events. But the idea that you can stop people from, or charge people for, telling the world what’s happening in a sporting venue is preposterous, not just from a legal or technological standpoint, but because these events depend on news coverage for advertising. Attempting to charge newspapers (or fans) for trying to keep others informed seems incredibly self-defeating.

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Comments on “Wisconsin Sports League Sends Newspapers Invoices For Live Blogging”

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36 Comments
Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hand in you fraking cell phone so you cant tell anyone whats going on ….

This is another case of monetary overcompensation about to catch up with it self. Yeah its fun to go to the game and eat 3 month old Diamond backs or Mets hot dogs that cost 5 bucks a piece. But … here is the catch … $1000 USD to take 4 people to a phillies

dilbert rocks says:

Mike,you always go off on this stuff, and you always sound like such a fool over it.

Basically, the newspapers can report all the like – but they cannot live broadcast.

It isn’t a question of stopping the newspapers from writing about the game after the game is over, it’s about reporting live during the game, with score by score updates, or even actual play by play. Those rights are paid for by someone else.

Legally, the leagues have a great case, there is market value for the rights to broadcast the games live, and if that market is destroyed by freeloaders, the leagues lose income.

The rest of your post is just your typical copyright whining.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:


Legally, the leagues have a great case, there is market value for the rights to broadcast the games live, and if that market is destroyed by freeloaders, the leagues lose income.

Please, can you point me where in the law it says that it’s illegal to remove the market value of something?

Thanks.

Just because someone makes money off of it doesn’t mean that they can stop others from live blogging it.

The league has no case at all.

David (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

What does the ticket you purchase at the event say? Yeah, I don’t know either. However, if it says you can’t cover the event live, then maybe they have a case. Of course, now we have to start arguing about the EULA and things like that. Does just buying a ticket mean you are bound by whatever it says on the back?

It does sort of sound like a bit of whining on the leagues part. “B-b-but, we contracted with these people, not you!”

But, not being a lawyer, I guess I don’t know how binding a ticket is. Even if it is, it would seem like their only recourse would be to kick you out if they catch you.

They may be making a stink only to try and keep the radio stations paying for the privilege. “We’re doing everything we can to stop those nasty bloggers, honest.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Ha! wrong.

First it is not a issue of copyright. You can not copyright what I wrote unless I sell it to you.

Second the league can not clam copyright or ownership of a news event. The league can only claim copyright of what the league wrote.

Third the league can not prevent one from passing on information, news, or accounts of any event on or off public land. Most sports stadiums are located on public owned land.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Ha! wrong.

It isn’t a news event – it is a private event (by ticket only). Media not accredited is not “media” for the purposes of the events, and subject to the restrictions on the purchase of their ticket.

The media is accredited to sporting events with restrictions.

Please consider the NASCAR vs ESPN thing that happened when ESPN lost the broadcast rights a number of years ago. They were not even allowed inside the events, and were forced to report from off property, and could not in any way describe or report on the action live.

RD says:

Right!

“It isn’t a news event – it is a private event (by ticket only). Media not accredited is not “media” for the purposes of the events, and subject to the restrictions on the purchase of their ticket.

The media is accredited to sporting events with restrictions. “

Exactly, you prove your own point wrong out of your own mouth.

This isnt about copyright.

Its about licensing and broadcast rights, which are CONTRACT issues. You dont need to invoke copyright to ban someone from attending your live event. Ditto about this whole non-issue you keep pushing about this being a copyright issue. Oh sure, they can (and sometimes, do) TRY to use copyright to squelch dissemination of their stuff, but in these cases, its more mundane than that and really just about money they get from “exclusive rights” (which are NOT a COPY-right, they are a license/contract term).

And my meds are fine thank you. I dont take any. Stupid people just get my dander up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Right!

copyright is the ownership of those rights, copyright is just in many cases glorified contract law.

We aren’t talking about banning anyone from the events per se, unless they violate those rights. The media (accredited or not) can come to the events, and report the events ONCE THE EVENT IS OVER. The live reporting of the event is contractually assigned, and everything to do with it is (tada) copyright.

Amazing.

“And my meds are fine thank you. I dont take any. Stupid people just get my dander up.”

Avoid mirrors, and please take your pills.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Right!

The media (accredited or not) can come to the events, and report the events ONCE THE EVENT IS OVER. The live reporting of the event is contractually assigned, and everything to do with it is (tada) copyright.

Again, please point me where in the law it says this, because the simple fact is it does not.

Contract law is entirely separate from copyright law, and there is no violation of copyright to live blog an event. The sports league may not like it, but it either has to not let these people attend or let them blog what they want.

Anonymous Coward says:

“But the idea that you can stop people from, or charge people for, telling the world what’s happening in a sporting venue is preposterous, not just from a legal or technological standpoint . . .”
Despite the apparent irony (if not myopia) of restricting the very publicity and news about an event for which such publicity is needed in order to be a viable on going revenue producing endeavor, the league may in fact have legal standing from a property rights perspective. If they own, rent or lease the property, they can dictate how guests behave within the confines of the premises. If they want to require a spectator or member of the press can enter only if they wear a diaper on their head, or not blog in real time, they’re likely within their [foolish] rights to do so.

RD says:

Wrong!

“copyright is the ownership of those rights, copyright is just in many cases glorified contract law. “

WRONG oh great any mighty shill.

“We aren’t talking about banning anyone from the events per se, unless they violate those rights. The media (accredited or not) can come to the events, and report the events ONCE THE EVENT IS OVER. The live reporting of the event is contractually assigned, and everything to do with it is (tada) copyright.”

Shows how much you know about law. Contract law and copyright law are quite different, and you DO NOT NEED COPYRIGHT to apply contract law to things. If I agree to work for you, and I sign a contract that gives me X dollars for X work, what does copyright have to do with that? Nothing. Which is what your silly, specious and totally twisted shill-esque warping of “law” is as well.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is a no-brainer. How do you keep ‘unauthorized’ people from reporting/shooting your event? You ban devices that allow people to do it. You can’t bring a video camera to a concert. This means keeping up with tech – either no phones or devices at your ballgame or broadcast a scrambling signal. Of course this will cause other problems, but it’s a simple, legal solution.

Avatar28 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Um, no. Use of a jamming signal is very much NOT a legal solution, not in the US at least. Plus in order to cover an area as large as a stadium, you are either going to have to A) have a LOT of low power devices all over the stadium or B) use a single higher power transmitter that is almost certainly going to leak over into surrounding areas. Just wait until your jammer affects the phone of somebody that isn’t even at the game and just happens to be nearby and they aren’t able to call 911 when something happens. Can we say lawsuit? Can we say BIG freaking lawsuit?

Enrico Suarve says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

So as a fan you are going to encourage me to continue coming to your venue by blocking my mobile so I can’t receive calls, threatening me with large amounts of small print on my ticket and removing the open air aspect?

Anything else you want to impose? Perhaps you can frisk us all and confiscate our cameras or make us all wear prison issue overalls?

Cos that’s just as likely to make me want to continue coming to your games

Yes you can technically stop people from doing things in your venue but remember one of the technicalities you have to deal with is your customers, your product is basically entertainment based, how much hassle will we put up with for a bit of entertainment before we decide it’s no longer entertaining?

teknosapien (profile) says:

Sooner or later

Fan base will start to drop off for a few reasons

1. If I’m new to the area how will I know whats available for entertainment unless the local news hypes it by writing a story or a news blip on TV

2. so many people will be thrown into jail for discussing the game at the water cooler, because they don’t have the express written permission of the sports authority

Isn’t this getting a bit ridiculous that everything having to be worth something or belong to Someone

Richard says:

The fact that sports “rights” are referred to as “rights” is causing the confusion.

There is no such thing in law as Sports coverage rights. What does exist is contracts between sports organisers and broadcasters in which the organisers provide facilities for the broadcasters. (And that includes the right to be at the event). They can also impose conditions on ticket holders to prevent them from acting as broadcasters. However the limit of the sanctions that they can apply is to eject them from the premises and refuse to admit them again. They don’t even have any copyright control over pictures or sound recordings taken (without a contract) at the event. Since sporting events are not in the category of artistic things covered by copyright the copyright on these sounds and images would lie with the photographer or recorder.

The output of the broadcasters IS covered by copyright but copyright law only protects the “expression”. The facts are not covered.

The following are therefore legal and unstoppable by the organisers or the broacasters.

1 Watch the live coverage on television or listen to the radio commentary and post scores and any other facts about the event on a website.

2. Hover above the event in a balloon, helicopter, satelllite etc and stream whatever video you can get.

Wheteher you do these activities in real time or only afeter the event is completely irrelevant. (Consider the case of Cricket or Golf where the event commonly lasts several days and you will realise how ridiculous that distinction is.)

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