Saturday, March 05, 2005

Who owns baseball stats?

The MLB is looking to own player stats when they are used for profit - i.e. when used for fantasy sports. The case is CDM Distribution & Marketing v. MLB Advanced Media, No. 4:05CV 22MLM (E.D. Mo.).

Fantasy sports are a huge business in the US, pulling in $1 billion per year according to the article linked to below. The MLB wants a peice of that action via licensing fees. This is a comment that I do not quite understand:

"Jim Gallagher, senior vice president, corporate communications for MLB Advance Media, said that baseball officials are not claiming exclusive rights to player statistics. But if a company is trying to use those statistics as a means of financial gain, he said, then MLB has a legal right to demand a license for their use. 'Player statistics are in the public domain. We've never disputed that,' Gallagher said. 'But if you're going to use statistics in a game for profit, you need a license from us to do that. We own those statistics when they're used for commercial gain.'"

Is this information in the public domain or is it not? I have never heard of a trype of material that is in the PD unless used for profit. The MLB does note that convincing the court that they own a copyright in this data is an uphill battle. I would hate to see fantasy sports go down the drain because of a crazy ruling on ownership of pure information - luckily, it sounds like there's almost no prayer the MLB will get what they want here. For more check out the article. - Pro Sports: Technology Changes Rules of the Game


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