Some of you may remember that last year MLB was sued for trying to copyright players stats in order to force fantasy leagues to pay fees.
LinkMLB... "argues that through an agreement with the player's union, it alone has the right to use or permit the use of the player's names and likenesses. As statistics are such an integral part of baseball, they are an extension of the player's likeness: few people talk about Jim Thome's face, but his batting average is all-important to baseball fans. Therefore, in the eyes of MLB, the unlicensed CBC should be stopped from running fantasy leagues based on MLB stats."
In august the court made the following ruling:
LinkA federal judge threw MLB a curveball yesterday, ruling that CBC Distribution (and other fantasy leagues) has every right to use game stats and player likenesses. In her ruling, Judge Mary Ann Medler found that the First Amendment takes precedence over MLB's "right of publicity." Since the stats that fantasy sites use are readily available in newspapers and online, they are not the exclusive property of MLB.
Now MLB is back in Appeals court:
LinkIn announcing plans to appeal the case, MLB decided that focusing on the stats was the wrong way to go. "We've agreed that the stats and names are in the public domain," MLB Advanced Media spokesman Gallagher said after the ruling. "But when you start to use team's logos and other images as CBC did, you need a license, it's that simple."
Instead, MLB's lawyers once again made the argument that publicity rights were of paramount concern, according to the AP. One of MLB's attorneys said that a fantasy league using names and stats without permission was analogous to a company printing posters or coffee mugs with pictures of players on them without permission. The judges appeared to be skeptical of MLB's arguments. "MLB is like a public religion. Everyone knows (the players') names and what they look like," opined U.S. Judge Morris Arnold. "This is just part of being an American, isn't it?"
I'm not sure how many have been watching, but MLB is upset that people are making money with "their" statistics. Now that they have conceded that stats are in the public domain it sounds like they are saying you can use the stats but you can't use the players names or likenesses.
If this is a dupe thread feel free to remove. But I thought this was an interesting legal battle. When does public celebrity cause names and likenesses to enter into the public domain.
Some of RZ's legal experts can probably put more light on the subject but it looks like MLB is going to have a tough argument on their hands.