Once Again (With Feeling!): Court Tells Major League Baseball It Does Not Own Facts

from the real-names,-here-we-go... dept

Major League Baseball has been tilting at windmills for years, claiming ownership of facts -- even though facts cannot be covered by copyright. This resulted in a lawsuit over whether or not companies that provide fantasy baseball services online needed to pay MLB for a license to use player's names and stats. While such licenses have been very lucrative for MLB over the years, one popular fantasy baseball company, CBC, decided to stop paying the license and keep offering the service -- which resulted in the lawsuit. It didn't take long for the courts to tell MLB that it doesn't own facts and anyone is free to use stats and player names. Of course, rather than realizing that fantasy baseball helps promote the real thing, bringing in a lot more money to the league, MLB could only focus on the short term licenses it was about to lose, and appealed. This was a waste of everyone's time, because the law is quite clear and an appeals court has now ruled (again) that Major League Baseball does not own the names and data associated with the game and anyone is free to use that factual information for other things, such as fantasy baseball games. It's highly likely that the folks at MLB will appeal again, though it's equally likely that they'll get smacked down again. MLB had shifted strategies as these cases wore on, trying to get away from focusing on ownership of facts and claiming it was more about the "right to publicity," but the appeals court ruled that a right to publicity does not trump the First Amendment.

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  1. identicon
    Mrrar, 16 Oct 2007 @ 5:03pm

    Re: Congress, and other lack of nuance

    While congress goes on vacation quite a lot, this 'vacation' is, for most members of congress, occupied by them going through their districts, having town hall meetings, meeting with local interest groups, and so forth.

    You can't have it both ways. Do you want your congressman to represent your district, or to remain in Washington all year? Pause to think about it-- if they stayed 'at work' all year, then they'd be less a citizen of their district, and more a citizen of DC. It's a dichotomy that Lessig broaches on at times. Corrupt Washington politician, or local political hero. Can't be both.

    And as for Baseball.. To be fair, most baseball players, or any sports player, ends up burning out on their career after 10 to at most 20 years. Only the 99th percentile moves past 20 years. To expect them to take the salary of an engineer (like myself) for a span of career that would last only half the time.. That's pretty ridiculous. I do agree salaries should be capped, and asking for more than a few hundred thousand dollars is unrealistic.. But when you consider that there are only around 3 thousand people out of 6 billion who play in the Major Leagues, who have that talent.. That they are given special compensation isn't unreasonable.


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