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Federal court rules in favor of fantasy leagues against MLB
2006-08-09 08:57
by Bob Timmermann

U.S. District Court Judge Mary Ann Meidler of St. Louis ruled that fantasy leagues do have the right to use the names and statistics of actual players without a licensing agreement. Judge Meidler ruled that the names and statistics are not the intellectual property of Major League Baseball.

Link to full text of opinion at Maury Brown's site.

Thanks to several people who suggested I post this story or one like it.

2006-08-09 09:11:03
1.   mehmattski
So what do you think this means for baseball video games? After being severely disappointed by 989's first year with exclusive MLB and MLBPA rights, I hope that EA will be able to come out with a game that at least has real player names, if not their true likenesses.

Other than that, I don't think this would have slowed down the fantasy industry anyway, most sites at least already offers a pay option.

2006-08-09 09:31:20
2.   Ali Nagib
I'd be very curious to see the full text of this decision if/when it becomes available.
2006-08-09 09:39:22
3.   Bob Timmermann
I added a link to the full decision up top.
2006-08-09 10:46:38
4.   Jacob L
Leave it to MLB to discourage activities that promote an interest in their product.
2006-08-09 11:47:24
5.   Ali Nagib
1 - I think that the agreements with respect to video games are still safe, because this ruling ONLY deals with names and stats, not pictures, team names/logos, etc. I suppose EA could theoretically put out a baseball game with all the "real" players, but they couldn't use the MLB or team logos, or uniforms, or player pictures/images. So you could have A-Rod, Jeter, Giambi, etc. on the New York "Fake Team" with some made up uniforms and logos...but I'm not sure that would really fly with the fans.

Since fantasy leagues only need the names and stats, this ruling makes a big difference for them. It would also apply to people who print stat/reference books (although I'm curious as to whether or not those people were paying for the right to use the names and stats in the first place). But for any more complicated use, one that needs the teams, logos and pictures to work, this ruling doesn't really apply.

2006-08-09 11:53:53
6.   Ali Nagib
Having read the full text of the decision, (with the caveat that I'm by no means a legal scholar) it seems like a slam dunk for fantasy site owners and supporters of the concept of stats being public domain. Not only were the major issues decided in favor of CBC's position, but almost all of the minor ones as well, at least according to this judge. I'm sure there are still plenty of ways to overturn it if some judge(s) decide they want to, but it would take a drastically different interpretation of the law, eg. the District Court would have to be wrong on both the issue of the applicability of the right of publicity AND the effect of the First Amendment on said right.

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