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Thread: MLB trying to copyright player's statistics

  1. #1
    GR8NESS WMR's Avatar
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    MLB trying to copyright player's statistics

    Noticed this thread over on ORG, would like to discuss it over here. I had a question dealing with this very issue on my recently completed "Business of Baseball" law school course.

    Do you think MLB should be able to "own" the statistics produced by its ballgames? Should it be considered part of the "free domain" of information?

    It is a very interesting issue, IMO.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Calipari is not, nor has he ever been accused or "caught", cheating. He himself turned in one of his players (Camby) for dealing with an agent to get one Final Four overturned. The other is all on the NCAA and Rose. (IF Rose cheated.)
    "Cheering for Kentucky is like watching Star Wars and hoping Darth Vader chokes an ewok"


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    Re: MLB trying to copyright player's statistics

    Look at the other sports...NFL, NBA, NHL...do they? I don't believe so...MLB should be glad people use these...it keeps fan's interest.

  4. #3
    GR8NESS WMR's Avatar
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    Re: MLB trying to copyright player's statistics

    I think much of it stems from the multi-million dollar business of fantasy baseball. No other sport--football is probably the closest--has nearly the amount of potential dollars on the table than fantasy baseball.

    Shouldn't MLB be allowed to control the usage of this information? It is being used for profit by certain entities. Without MLB, this entire industry would not exist. Shouldn't the players and MLB be allowed to profit from and control these hundreds of millions of dollars produced solely from their efforts?
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Calipari is not, nor has he ever been accused or "caught", cheating. He himself turned in one of his players (Camby) for dealing with an agent to get one Final Four overturned. The other is all on the NCAA and Rose. (IF Rose cheated.)
    "Cheering for Kentucky is like watching Star Wars and hoping Darth Vader chokes an ewok"


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    Re: MLB trying to copyright player's statistics

    There is nothing stopping MLB from using the same information that other Fantasy Purveyors are using to present their own superior Fantasy Product, thus utilizing Market Forces to drive competition out of business.

    Instead of trying to use weenierific legal tactics to do it, on the grounds that they're too lazy and unimaginitive to capitalize on new media. I swear, the insistence of so many companies (mostly in the entertainment world) of treating various internet outlets and platforms as Obstacles, instead of as Opportunities absolutely baffles me.

    At least baseball comes by this honestly: the soul-crushing lack of spine, reason, and vision comes straight from the top. Viva la Selig!

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    Re: MLB trying to copyright player's statistics

    If they created their own licensed Fantasy Baseball Product, their argument would actually be stronger in support of protecting the data as being under their exclusive domain to license as they so choose. (corollary = video games)

    One of the things hurting MLB's current argument the most is exactly the point you elucidated, FlightRick.

    Should a start-up video game company be allowed to usurp MLB stadiums, player names, stats, etc. etc. in order to "force" MLB to produce a "superior" video game? Of course not.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Calipari is not, nor has he ever been accused or "caught", cheating. He himself turned in one of his players (Camby) for dealing with an agent to get one Final Four overturned. The other is all on the NCAA and Rose. (IF Rose cheated.)
    "Cheering for Kentucky is like watching Star Wars and hoping Darth Vader chokes an ewok"


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    Re: MLB trying to copyright player's statistics

    I don't buy the videogame analogy, in this case.

    In a videogame, a developer pays (rightly) to feature visual representations of Major League Stars, who look the same as the real players, who move the same as the real players, and who wear the proper licensed uniforms of the real players. All so that the gamer at home can get the jolt out of "controlling" these stars on their TV screens.

    In fantasy baseball (or even just in generic Sports Reporting), all you're doing is taking a Matter Of Public Record and performing some math. It's proprietary information only in the sense that it's the property of anybody who has two eyes and isn't in a coma.

    To me, the analogy would be more like this: you're a production company, and you invest money to make "SpiderMan 3." You are well within your rights to demand money from a videogame maker if they want to use imagery from the film. You are CERTAINLY within your rights to prevent unauthorized duplication of the actual movie footage. But you're a moron if you think you can stop people from talking about what they saw in the movie after you've released it and entered it into the public record. Even if they are critics and gurus who get paid and generate income from talking about it.

    Video and audio representations of Junior slugging a home run (be it on TV, radio, or even in a nearly-photo-realistic videogame)? Property of Major League Baseball.

    But knowing that Junior slugged a home run and being able to talk openly about it? Property of no one. Not in any world governed by logic and common sense, anyway.
    Last edited by FlightRick; 06-15-2007 at 07:35 PM.

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    Re: MLB trying to copyright player's statistics

    Here's the thing though, FlightRick: what if MLB created a fantasy program that contained a visual element where you could plug in your players and they would play in their positions in a virtual simulation against the players of whomever your foe happened to be for that game?

    If they tied that into their "officially licensed fantasy baseball product," whose roots are still solely based in statistics, shouldn't MLB be allowed to decide how and in what way the public will experience fantasy baseball, a product generated solely through the labors of MLB and the members of the MLBPA?

    Does allowing a myriad of "inferior" fantasy baseball products/usages devalue their own "official fantasy baseball product?"

    I believe it does.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Calipari is not, nor has he ever been accused or "caught", cheating. He himself turned in one of his players (Camby) for dealing with an agent to get one Final Four overturned. The other is all on the NCAA and Rose. (IF Rose cheated.)
    "Cheering for Kentucky is like watching Star Wars and hoping Darth Vader chokes an ewok"


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    Re: MLB trying to copyright player's statistics

    (1) Maybe the ol' FlightRick has had a long, booze-soaked night and is on the brink of crashing, but it seems to me that what you describe ("virtual simulations" and whatnot) bears zero resemblance to anything having to do with the collection and synethesis of baseball statistics. Let MLB make "virtual simulation" games where there are graphics or doctored video footage of Player A vs. Player B. That has ZERO to do with the simple matter of observing what happened when Player A faced Team X in real life, and then entering it into the historical record.

    (2) It seems, WMR, that you are attached primarly to the idea of fantasy baseball being a profitable industry that is somehow leeching off of MLB. But you can't just arbitrarily pick a single scenario as being unfair and lash out against it. You have to argue from basic, logical principles that hold true universarlly. I think that's Kant. Or something. I forget. But it's good, simple common sense. And when you take the argument that baseball stats are somehow MLB's "property," and try to apply that universally, you end up in a place where your local newspaper can't even report the final score of a game. Because the outcome is Property of MLB. And that, I am sad to report, is quite dumb. So you have to keep looking for a different principle to apply here.

    (3) And this is where I go back to my analogy above, about movie production. I just threw it out there, but I've decided I like it. Look: how many people saw "The Sopranos" on Sunday? Generous estimates place that number at 12 million people. But how many people know it ended with ten seconds of black screen in the middle of a climactic scene and have somehow commented or joked about that fact? Probably 120 million. Can HBO sue the pants off of the 108 million people who make up that difference? Hell, no. And that goes whether the one of the 108 million is me (who can't make a dime off of knowing how "The Sopranos" ended) or is Conan O'Brien (who gets paid millions per year to make jokes, and has been using this as a gag for 3 nights, now). Simple reason dictates that even if you create something, once you display it and enter it into the public record, people are going to know about it.

    And you can't stop them.

    So why bother trying, unless you're really, really dumb?

    I say let MLB have all the rights and ownership over video and audio and crap like that. But nobody "owns" a home run. Nobody owns a strikeout. Hell, nobody owns a foul tip. MLB trying to own statistics is like the US Government trying to retroactively lay claim to owning the Gettysberg Address in an attempt to sue the pants off of anybody who happened to read about what words were uttered that day.

    It just makes no rational sense. To me, anyway.....

  10. #9
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    Re: MLB trying to copyright player's statistics

    FlightRick: There is a huge difference between a box score reported by a newspaper and a "for-profit" venture of FBB.

    It isn't the outcome of a game that is the property of MLB, it is how that data is being utilized. I'm sure MLB would not and will not have the slightest issue with a newspaper reporting the score of a ballgame. Will they have an issue with an entity using the data produced by their ballplayers for a methodology upon which MLB could generate guaranteed revenue?

    At the core of what you and I are debating I want to say the following: It isn't that a particular entity "owns" a strikeout or homerun. It is how that data is being utilized in the marketplace. There was a case dealing with the National Basketball Association wherein the NBA was attempting to dispute a cellular phone company (can't remember the exact one at the moment) issuing "real-time" scores of in-progress basketball games. The court ruled in favor of the cell phone company.

    The difference here is that this data is being utilized in a method which may be viewed as purely commercial. Courts have determined that the reporting of statistics/scores should be considered a part of the "free flow of information and ideas."

    The divide is, once this data is utilized to comprise a product, a TANGIBLE product (a FANTASY BASEBALL PRODUCT), that would not otherwise exist without MLB and the players of MLB, those aforementioned entities gain rights along with the entitlement to funds arising from the licensing of the data used to construct said tangible product.

    I see a difference between the data, in and of itself, and the utilization of the data in a pursuit such as FBB.
    Last edited by WMR; 06-16-2007 at 07:31 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Calipari is not, nor has he ever been accused or "caught", cheating. He himself turned in one of his players (Camby) for dealing with an agent to get one Final Four overturned. The other is all on the NCAA and Rose. (IF Rose cheated.)
    "Cheering for Kentucky is like watching Star Wars and hoping Darth Vader chokes an ewok"



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