The Electric Commentary

Monday, January 16, 2006

MLB's Latest Mess

CBC Distribution and Marketing, a company that runs baseball fantasy leagues, applies to MLB for a license to use names and statistics, and is denied. What do they do? The sue Major League Baseball, claiming that stats are historical facts, and therefore cannot be protected under copyright law.

Dan Drezner has an excellent collection of related links, including this one:

But IP lawyer Kent Goss is quoted as citing an interesting 2001 case in which MLB themselves claimed that player names and statistics were (as far as I can interpret) both in the public domain and free for others to profit from, and the California Court of Appeal upheld MLB's right to use the names and stats of historical players. "A group of former players sued MLB for printing their names and stats in game programs, claiming their rights to publicity were violated," Goss said. "But the court held that they were historical facts, part of baseball history, and MLB had a right to use them. Gionfriddo v. Major League Baseball, 94 Cal. App. 4th 400 (2001)."

Legal questions aside, why would baseball make it so difficult for fantasy league operators? Is it the Pete Rose generated fear of gambling? They should take a note from the NFL and realize that having widespread fantasy leagues is definitely in their best interest.


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