Why Should Newspapers Agree To MLB's Rules On How They Can Report On Baseball Online?

from the no-need-to-compromise dept

Back in February, we noted that Major League Baseball (MLB) was following the NFL down the extremely slippery slope of putting in place restrictions concerning how reporters could report on baseball online. This included things like only very short video clips could be posted online, no more than 7 photos, and all non-text content had to be removed in 72-hours. If that all sounds like preventing reporters from doing their job, you'd be correct. As I suggested at the time, the answer should be for newspapers to simply ignore the rules and if MLB pulls their press passes to buy their reporters tickets to the games (rather than using press passes) or see how the teams feel without press coverage. While it appears that newspapers certainly were upset about these restrictions, rather than doing anything serious about it, they've apparently negotiated a "compromise." The compromise allows newspapers to now host more video and audio content than the original restrictions, but everything still needs to be removed within 72-hours unless there's a special exemption.

This is, of course, absolutely ridiculous. While it's perfectly legal (reporters don't need to get press passes, so the team can restrict them), it sets a tremendously bad precedent that journalists are allowing any outside control over how they can report on a game. This is all stemming from MLB's incorrect belief that it "owns" everything having to do with Major League Baseball -- and then wanting to artificially limit it so it can sell it to fans. Note that we're not just talking about actual game data here -- but interviews with the players that are conducted by the journalists. There's simply no legitimate reason why newspapers should allow MLB to dictate what it can do with that content or how it can report on it. All that this will do is serve to limit the kind of innovative reporting and community building that the MLB should be encouraging. It's a top down approach by an organization who thinks that only it can decide how people get access to news and info about the game. But it's going to stop newspapers from putting in place their own, perhaps more useful, services for fans, and that will only serve to limit the fanbase. It's upsetting that MLB would even try to do this and it's a travesty that newspapers acquiesced, even to the supposed "compromise" solution. It's opening the door to the MLB telling them what they can report on and any newspaper person should know better.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Joel Coehoorn, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 7:44am

    You're too nice.

    You give MLB too much credit. If they really believed they owned the statitics and facts, that would be one thing. But I think they know where the line is, and it's more a matter of throwing their weight around, and seeing how much they can get away with.

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

  2. identicon
    Sys Admn, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 7:53am

    Let MLB take the heat.

    If I ran a newspaper's online archive, all pictures, video, and audio content that was removed would be replaced by a 404 page that said, "This content removed at the request of Major League Baseball. Please contact Mr. XYZ (xyz@mlb.com, (555) 555-1234) or your local team's publicity director with your comments and concerns.", followed by a table of the names, emails, and phone numbers for each club's PR flack.

    If I were feeling cheeky, I'd include a link to Coralcdn's (http://www.coralcdn.org/ cached version of the page.

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

  3. identicon
    JJ, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 7:56am

    MLB is foolish

    ...to think that if content is taken down after 3 days it will disappear. In this age of archives and youtube, if its on the internet for 5 minutes, it might as well stay up forever.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 8:17am

    Dull dull dull... the less coverage about baseball the better.

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

  5. identicon
    James, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 8:30am


    I say if they want to be buttheads about something like this then let suffer in obscurity w/o ANY coverage... it seems thats what they want anyways.

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

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 8:51am

    Re: You're too nice.

    They do believe they own the statistics and facts as they tried to sue Yahoo and other Fantasy BB leagues saying they had to pay MLB for the access to all stats

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

  7. identicon
    Pete Valle, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 8:52am

    Explain please

    Wouldn't additional news coverage help bring in fans and, hence, mean more t.v. ratings, ticket sales and merchandise revenue?

    This action by MLB is completely illogical. I fail to see their reasoning.

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

  8. identicon
    deathbychichi, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 8:59am

    Fiddling While Rome Burns

    Most of the ham radio guys pushed to keep the Morse code requirement for getting a license, to keep out the riff-raff. Now they are discovering that there are almost no hams under 70 years old and in a few more years there won't be anyone to talk to because they'll all be dead.

    Likewise, baseball. Baseball's heydey is a half-century past. MLB thinks they're such a big deal, but with the huge proliferation of entertainment choices, their proportion of the pie is getting smaller, and stomping on the people who help to promote them and generate interest in them is short-sighted at best.

    That's OK, though, because almost all the ham radio guys LOVE baseball.

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

  9. identicon
    Beefcake, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 9:04am


    It seems that because (correctly) MLB can do whatever they want to with their press passes to events, cities should be able to do whatever they want with their venues. If a post-game interview happens in the stadium, how is that different from talking to the athlete on the street? Or, if it was a privately-funded stadium, talking to him in a Starbucks? Unless they are interviewing the athlete during the event, once that event has concluded there is nothing to restrict.

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

  10. identicon
    Jeff, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 9:18am

    Re: Anaonymous coward

    myself, I am not a baseball fan. but any time someone dictates where the limits of the freedom of the press (minus nat security) is a loss of liberty.

    oh, and if you do not like baseball information, do not read it!

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

  11. identicon
    HankAaron, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 9:18am

    Why does the MLB get such preferential, hands-off treatment? Not just this case, but the whole anti-trust exemption, etc.
    Being "America's pastime" doesn't seem to be a legit excuse.

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

  12. identicon
    Andrew, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 9:39am



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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 9:49am

    MLB just becomes less and less relevant, and becoming introverted seems like just the solution for their problem. Their problem of not being dead yet, that is.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 9:50am

    Baseball... I used to watch that when I was 8, along with WWF wrestling.

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

  15. identicon
    William J, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 10:18am

    Uh, does this post have to come down in 72 hours because the acronym MLB was use?

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

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 10:42am

    Why is anyone surprised that newspapers are going along with the restrictions? They aren't that far from the "please don't give me any free publicity so I can try to charge people for things they don't want" mentality that the newspapers themselves have embraced.

    Self-destruction is not against the law. What should be against the law is whining for government protection when near-sighted business models fail.

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

  17. identicon
    Mic J, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    Why doesn't anyone get serious?

    I have said this before and I will always repeat it, if the public wants to show these idiots who is really the boss here, stop going, listening, reading, or buying anything baseball or whatever it is the "owners" are attempting to control. Until the public gets truly serious about being "offended" by this behavior and truly threatens to shut them down by refusing to comply, they will always continue to do this crap. Who, after all, really "owns" all of these publicly built stadiums, anyway? Us or MLB? Time, isn't it, to get serious and stop whining about what they are doing and do something about it.

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

  18. identicon
    Fred, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    Why would newspapers agree to this? Who would want to read a sports page written without access to the press box, without access to the players, without access to the press notes put out by every team before every game? A paper could report the facts by sending a reporter to sit in the stands or by watching the game on TV, but the end result sure wouldn't be something I'd want to read very often. They could post pictures and video taken from the stands, but it likely wouldn't be anything I want to watch. MLB could probably live without newspaper coverage more easily than newspapers could survive without baseball content - fans would still have access to ESPN, MLB's web properties and other media.

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

  19. identicon
    zhenchyld, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 11:19am

    I don't own a television. 99% of the media I'm exposed to is online because buying a newspaper or shelling out the cash for a flatscreen and cable (neither of which is portable like my hi-def widescreen laptop) makes no sense for my lifestyle. Therefore, MLB will never have me as a fan because of their poor offerings on my preferred (pretty much only) media conduit.

    Now I realize not everybody is as tech-nerdy as me. But the numbers are growing. More and more people in the under 30 (and other) demographics don't give a damn what's on TV because we just don't watch it. Why would we waste our time sitting through commercials or waste our money for a TiVo box when we can Google exactly what we want to see and stream it on YouTube in under 15 seconds? If this is how the MLB adapts to the emergence of new technology and social trends then I'm not sure how long those multi-million dollar player contracts are going to last ...

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

  20. identicon
    zhenchyld, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 11:24am

    Re: Tradeoff

    Man I wish they'd start taking exhausted sweaty atheletes to Starbucks to conduct the interveiws. I'd like to see some of those NBA guys after double-overtime jacked up on a triple-shot mocha and blabbering about team strategy. Many of those guys have a hard enough time giving interviews as is, I'm thinking it would sound something like

    'Yeah, yeah, we just played real hard, we came out to play, we went out there and we played real hard, and it payed off you know, all that work in practice, we practiced real hard this past week, and we put in a lot of work, and when we came out, you know, and we came out to play, and we played real hard tonight... ' (continue endless run on sentence here with 37% chance of thanking Jesus somewhere in there)

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

  21. identicon
    Vishnu, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 11:55am

    Not just American sports

    This trend seems to be growing in other countries too. Recently, a new cricket series called IPL was launched and they too seem to have such stupid rules about how the media should use the images and videos taken at the games. http://www.hindu.com/2008/04/10/stories/2008041055681000.htm

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

  22. identicon
    Phil McCraken, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 11:58am


    The NCAA did the same thing with the Mens Tourney. My local news said they were "not allowed" to show coverage of the game until the late news. How do these idiots not know about fair use...

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

  23. identicon
    inc, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 4:30pm

    Re: You're too nice.

    They do think they own the facts about the game.

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

  24. identicon
    Cricket Fan, Apr 10th, 2008 @ 11:08pm

    Cricket too goes down this line

    Indian Cricket event "Indian Premier League" is going down this line too. At one point they banned any media to report live scores - including websites.

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

  25. identicon
    stationstops admin, Apr 15th, 2008 @ 5:50am

    MLB isnt news

    MLB isn't news, its an entertainment business.
    Big difference.

    They can put any restriction they want on the multimedia reproductions of its events, it doesn't affect journalistic integrity in any way to adhere to them.

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

  26. identicon
    Don Osterizer, Oct 5th, 2009 @ 3:38am

    Re: Cricket too goes down this line

    The problem is that it cannot be enforced on sites outside of India. Since most hosting companies are in the USA, the Indian authorities have no jurisdiction over what is posted on a U.S. site

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

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