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Court rules against MLB and MLBPA's right to license fantasy names & stats

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by The Big Ragu, Aug 8, 2006.

  1. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I am more familiar with football that baseball and I know the players association has made a ton on these licensing agreements. Does this affect football?

    Associated Press Writer
    ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Fantasy baseball leagues are allowed to use player
    names and statistics without licensing agreements because they are not
    the intellectual property of Major League Baseball, a federal judge
    ruled Tuesday.
    Baseball and its players have no right to prevent the use of names
    and playing records, U.S. District Court Judge Mary Ann Medler in St.
    Louis ruled in a 49-page summary judgment.
    St. Louis-based CBC Distribution and Marketing Inc. filed a lawsuit
    against Major League Baseball Advanced Media, MLB's Internet wing, after
    CBC was denied a new licensing agreement with the baseball players'
    association giving it the rights to player profiles and statistics.
    Major League Baseball claimed that intellectual property laws and
    so-called "right of publicity" make it illegal for fantasy leagues to
    make money off the identities and stats of professional players.
    But even if the players could claim the right of publicity against
    commercial ventures by others, Medler wrote, the First Amendment takes
    precedent because CBC, which runs CDM Fantasy Sports, is disseminating
    the same statistical information found in newspapers every day.
    "The names and playing records of major league baseball players as
    used in CBC's fantasy games are not copyrightable," Medler wrote.
    "Therefore, federal copyright law does not pre-empt the players' claimed
    right of publicity."
    The ruling brings some relief to more than 300 businesses that run
    online fantasy leagues and have awaited the outcome of the lawsuit. In
    fantasy sports leagues, fans draft major leaguers and teams win or lose
    based on the statistical success of the actual players in major league
    It wasn't immediately clear what impact the ruling would have on
    existing agreements, such as the ones MLB has with CBS Sportsline.com,
    Yahoo Inc., ESPN.com and others. MLB also may appeal.
    "My thought today is this ruling is pretty strong but if MLB wants to
    fight it they have the funds to do it," said Jeff Thomas, founder and
    CEO of the fantasy site SportsBuff.com and president of the Fantasy
    Sports Trade Association.
    Thomas said SportsBuff.com's online fantasy baseball leagues have
    tried for years to reach agreements with MLB, but were unsuccessful and
    carried on without them.
    Major League Baseball Advanced Media had just received the ruling
    this afternoon and was in the process of reviewing it, said spokesman
    Jim Gallagher.
    "We need to talk to our partners, the Major League Baseball Players
    Associations, before we have anything more to say," he said.
    Baseball's refusal to give CBC a contract for the 2005 season came as
    the league was making exclusive statistics licensing agreements in the
    fantasy sports marketplace that has grown to more than 15 million
    Like many other fantasy baseball leagues, CBC had a licensing
    agreement with the MLBPA from 1995 through the 2004 season and paid 9
    percent of gross royalties to the association. The company now believes
    it shouldn't have to pay for the right to use statistics.
    Rudy Telscher, who represents CBC, said both sides had asked for a
    summary judgment before the case was scheduled to go to trial next
    "Once you've won this here the odds are really good for us when MLB
    appeals," Telscher said. "I think once this issue is decided by an
    appellate court it's unlikely that other sports will try to take this to
    the court again."
    Fantasy sports has grown at a rate of up to 10 percent each year,
    according to the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.
    MLB had 19 license agreements in 2004, according to MLB Advanced
    Media, and just seven last season after a $50 million agreement with the
    players association giving baseball exclusive rights to license
    Many of the smaller fantasy businesses, such as CBC, say they were
    cut out of the agreement.
    Glenn Colton, a New York lawyer who wrote a friend of the court brief
    for the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, said the statistics licensing
    issue is critical to the industry.
    "The idea on MLB's part is if you can scare all of the little
    companies out of the market," Colton said, "you can collect more money."
  2. Montezuma's Revenge

    Montezuma's Revenge Active Member

    Justice prevails.

    It doesn't always.

    But it did this time.

    Shame on MLB for even trying this stunt.
  3. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member


    Yeah, I'm a fantasy baseball looser. Wanna fight about it?
  4. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    This is bullshit. They're numbers, therefore fact.

    Fuck MLB.
  5. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    This went all the way to the Supreme Court, and ...

  6. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    This entire maneuver was a prime example of baseball's myopia.
    All baseball sees is a company making money instead of the free marketing, exposure and fan-base cultivation baseball receives as part of fantasy baseball's popularity.
    Where baseball sees lost revenue, anyone with vision sees free marketing and the cultivation of the current and future fan base.
    And bravo to the judge, although it pains me to say anything nice about a judge.
  7. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    Exactly. I wonder if the idiots in charge realize just how many fans they get and keep through fantasy baseball.
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