from the home-run dept
I've made this clear in the past, but I'm a huge fan of Major League Baseball's Advanced Media wing and a good deal of the work they do in providing clips and streaming on the internet and mobile devices. One aspect I hadn't been aware of, however, was a method for watching games very quickly by stripping out the downtime, commercials and the commentary. As I understand it, it's all the game content and nothing else, and it can make it possible to watch a full game in fifteen minutes.
And if this sounds like something baseball broadcasts have obviously needed, a company called Baseball Quick fully agrees with you. That's why it also developed a system for likewise condensing baseball games. Then, because this is America, Baseball Quick and MLB spent the last three years going after each other in court for the two competing products that do the exact same thing. And, amazingly, despite the existence of patents in the works, the judge in the case has rightly outlined why there isn't any infringement.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest noted that each company's algorithm offers a different pitch, in a 23-page opinion issued Thursday. MLB "uses a subjective editing process focused on copying and pasting material, whereas BQ's is objective and focused on deleting material," the opinion states. She granted MLB's motion for a judgment declaring that its technology does not infringe its competitor's patent.While it's not quite the idea/expression dichotomy one finds in copyright cases, it's nevertheless nice to see a court rule on the actual method ("art") rather than the outcome. Too often the focus is on the latter, which feeds into an ownership culture that appears to think that having an idea that is of use is the same as developing a patentable method for arriving at said use. In this case, the method for achieving shorter baseball broadcasts was different in a significant enough way that there's no infringement.
In the meantime, MLB is trying to get Baseball Quick's patent declared invalid under the idea that the method described is obvious. The move is likely MLB being vindictive, but that doesn't mean they aren't right. Shortening a broadcast of a baseball game by deleting all the parts that aren't the game does sound obvious, though the method for getting there may not be.