by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
copyright, sports

Sports Organizations Worldwide Using Copyright Claims To Fight Press Coverage

from the stupidity-knows-no-bounds dept

Various sports organizations seem to have taken a page from the RIAA and the MPAA over the last few years, stupidly thinking that it makes sense to try to cash in on every little segment of their events, even if it hurts the promotional value of those events, killing off fan interest in the process. We'd mentioned earlier this year how the NFL was claiming that it could control how reporters reported on NFL players and events. Soon after that, we wrote about how the organizers of the Rugby World Cup faced a boycott from reporters, after they tried to put restrictions on the reporting as well. In both cases, the sporting leagues are claiming they can do this because they own the "intellectual property" rights on the events -- which is a total bastardization of the purpose of copyright. It's never been meant to restrict how reporters could report on the events.

However, that's not stopping more sporting event organizers from salivating at the chance to control the press some more. A bunch of them have now banded together to form an organization (no, we are not kidding) to push for worldwide treaties that would recognize their intellectual property rights over game events. The group claims it needs to do this to "protect and promote the special nature of sport." Oh really? And just letting reporters, say, report on these events doesn't protect or promote the nature of sport? It seems more likely that these sports organizations are trying to put these restrictions on reporters for a variety of reasons -- from covering up negative stories to forcing reporters to act as advertisers for sponsors of the sport. Either way, it goes well beyond the purpose of any intellectual property law -- and hopefully politicians aren't blinded by "the special nature of sport" into agreeing to any kind of restrictions on reporting on those events.

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  • identicon
    Mike C., 17 Dec 2007 @ 3:40pm

    Where will it end....

    Next we'll see criminals filing suit against CNN for reporting on their activities, police filing suit for the arrests they make, etc, etc.

    In a way, reading stuff like this makes me more and more pleased that I started giving up sports when the baseball players decided to strike oh so long ago. The few times I do watch these days is with my kids so that they can at least learn the basics. That way, they've got something other than video games to play with their friends... :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Vincent Clement, 17 Dec 2007 @ 3:43pm

    We could eliminate these problems by eliminating copyright. Any takers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Alfred E. Neuman, 17 Dec 2007 @ 6:19pm

    Performance Enhancement

    I'm sure that any story about performance enhancing drugs would be protected by their "IP".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, 17 Dec 2007 @ 7:09pm

    All Intellect Shall Be Propertized...

    ...and no thinking for free. Imagine a little taxi meter attached to each brain cell, going ka-chink, ka-chink, ka-chink for every thought thunk...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mike, 17 Dec 2007 @ 9:55pm

    Now you know...

    Now you know why I have given up on all pro sports in the last few years.

    I am the fan who pays their bills. And, I am tired of all of their corporate crap.

    Maybe more people will do what I have done and found something else to do on Monday nights or any other time there is a pro sports event going on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    brandon, 17 Dec 2007 @ 10:43pm

    You can't copyright facts (even fake ones, although I cant seem to find the story from a while back where Map publishers put in fake data to catch people copying their maps... and they lost).

    The Bears lost to the Vikings tonight... It's a fact. So and so had this many catches, a quarterback threw some interceptions... all facts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2007 @ 6:23am

    Of course the folks running the sports industry want to control the media. They already do that. Gary McCord once made fun of the greens at the Masters. He doesn't announce the Masters anymore.

    I would call that controlling the media. They do that with press passes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      brandon, 18 Dec 2007 @ 8:24am


      I agree with you about the press passes, but not on the McCord thing...

      He would have been employed by the network that bought the rights to broadcast an event. His job was to provide color commentary on the events of the game under contract. I don't think he's considered 'media' at that point.

      Doesn't make it right, if the greens were crap then he should be able to say so.... but it's not a media controlling issue IMO.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2007 @ 9:10am

    McCord dropped a ball onto the green and then watched it roll off the green and into the pond. For that, he was banned from the broadcast.

    Seems to me that was controlling the media.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris Brand, 18 Dec 2007 @ 9:29am

    Aren't contracts better ?

    What I don't understand is why they'd choose to use copyright rather than contracts.

    The one thing all these big sporting events have in common is that they're held in some enclosed space, with admission only by permission of the venue owner.

    So why not include whatever stupid press restrictions in the "contract" that goes along with the ticket (and/or press pass) ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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