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Stealing stats?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by BigJim5190, Jan 19, 2008.

  1. BigJim5190

    BigJim5190 Member

    So long story short, there's a new web site in our area that was started as "the source for state basketball information" and the person/kid who started it has a news and notes section, polls and a scoring leaders for the state along with other information.

    As far as newspaper coverage goes, the state is divided up into three coverage areas, so it looks like what he is doing is taking information from various papers and putting it on his site.

    Kind of irritating because, at least for our paper, I spend the time getting the stats coordinated to run in the paper and getting the stories and game coverage pulled together. This guy had the nerve to e-mail me and ask if I could send him the stats a day early, which prompted me siccing my editor on him.

    Is just taking the stats from our web site and copying and pasting them into the other two zones legal? Do we have any recourse? He was sent a polite "hey, cut it out" e-mail, took all our stuff down for a day, then put it back up on the site.

    He included a note of where he gets all his information from as well as a smarmy "Definition of "stealing information" at the bottom of the page now. Of course, that didn't sit well and the legal team is being dispatched.

    I was wondering if it's worth it? What's "free" information and what's not? Once I publish something is it out there for someone to crib from or outright steal? I mean articles and columns is one thing, but stats? Is that public information or what?

    Just looking to see if I/we are overreacting. I'm just a little irritated because some of my coaches are already getting the polls confused. I mean, once he gets a web ad up, he's making money off my work.
  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    I thought stats can't be copyrighted. Wasn't that the case with fantasy baseball in lawsuits against MLB.
  3. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    I'm under the same impression, but I'm far from a legal analyst.
  4. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    There was a college newspaper a few years back that was doing basically the same thing with box scores from the paper I worked at. Our editor said there was no legal recourse, because once info is published in your paper, it becomes public domain. I don't think you can win a suit against the kid.
  5. Barsuk

    Barsuk Active Member


    I don't think there's much you can do about this, though someone else could come along and prove me wrong. One thing, though: Are you guys putting these stats on your Web site, or just running them in the paper? We run area stats leaders in the paper every week, but we don't put them on the Web. If you did that, this guy would at least have to buy a copy of your paper to rip off the stats.

    Just a thought.
  6. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    Or at least go to the library, you know ... "trying to save a quarter."
  7. Lollygaggers

    Lollygaggers Member

    As long as he's crediting your paper as the place he gets the info, it doesn't sound like he's doing anything "wrong." Taking a huge shortcut, yes, but I don't think it's illegal. It's pretty similar to what the Drudge Report's been doing forever, though Drudge at least provides links rather than posting the entire information on his site.
  8. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    Why not ask him to credit you with the information? He doesn't have to do it, since it is in the public domain, but a credit would be nice.
  9. Hank_Scorpio

    Hank_Scorpio Active Member

    Since he asked, send him a report of a guy scoring 60 points in one game a day early. Let him put it on his little web site.

    Then you run the correct info in your paper/web site the next day, which makes him look silly.

    Other than that, probably not much you can do. Even if he says he'll stop copying your stats, he could still do it and just say he got them from another source.
  10. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Truth is, he doesn't have to credit anyone.
    Statistical information collected in open forum is not protected.
  11. trifectarich

    trifectarich Well-Known Member

    You can dig quite a hole for yourself when you take and run with info that's wrong.
  12. BigJim5190

    BigJim5190 Member

    That's what I thought. I figured once they're "out there", it's fair game, but a "credit: Real Newspaper" would have been nice (but not manditory). My editor is pretty fired up about it, so we'll see where it goes. The battle got pushed up the ladder. The SE thinks that because we did all the legwork, it's our news, but I never hear people saying, "Johnny Pointguard averaged 21.2 pointer per game last year for Smalltown High, according to the Podunk Press."

    Thanks for all your insight on this.
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