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Who Owns Baseball Statistics?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the tell-me-of-this-baseball-you-speak-of dept.

The Internet 609

Class Act Dynamo writes "A sports fantasy league company has asked a federal court to decided whether baseball statistics belong in the public domain as history or are the property of major league baseball. Basically, they had been licensing the statistics for nine cents (US) per gross from the Major League Baseball Players Association. But MLB recently bought the rights to be the sole licensor and has refused to renew the license of the fantasy league company. From the article: 'Major League Baseball has claimed that intellectual property law makes it illegal for fantasy league operators to commercially exploit the identities and statistical profiles of big league players.' What does the Slashdot community think? Shoud Barry Bonds' record 73 single season homeruns be in the public domain, or should I worry about having to pay royalties for the first part of this compound sentence?"

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MLB Sucks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480080)

In 2006, MLB made 20% more money due to their privatization of people's brains. Oh wait, they own this now too.

Take this, MLB (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480137)

MLB Player Batting Statistics for 2005

RK PLAYER TEAM AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Derrek Lee ChC 594 120 199 50 3 46 107 15 3 85 .335 .418 .662 1.080
2 Placido Polanco Det 501 84 166 27 2 9 56 4 3 33 .331 .383 .447 .830
3 Michael Young Tex 668 114 221 40 5 24 91 5 2 58 .331 .385 .513 .899
4 Albert Pujols StL 591 129 195 38 2 41 117 16 2 97 .330 .430 .609 1.039
5 Miguel Cabrera Fla 613 106 198 43 2 33 116 1 0 64 .323 .385 .561 .947
6 Alex Rodriguez NYY 605 124 194 29 1 48 130 21 6 91 .321 .421 .610 1.031
7 Todd Helton Col 509 92 163 45 2 20 79 3 0 106 .320 .445 .534 .979
8 Vladimir Guerrero LAA 520 95 165 29 2 32 108 13 1 61 .317 .394 .565 .959
9 Johnny Damon Bos 624 117 197 35 6 10 75 18 1 53 .316 .366 .439 .805
10 Brian Roberts Bal 561 92 176 45 7 18 73 27 10 67 .314 .387 .515 .903
RK PLAYER TEAM AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB BA OBP SLG OPS
11 Sean Casey Cin 529 75 165 32 0 9 58 2 0 48 .312 .371 .423 .795
12 Derek Jeter NYY 654 122 202 25 5 19 70 14 5 77 .309 .389 .450 .839
13 Chad Tracy Ari 503 73 155 34 4 27 72 3 1 35 .308 .359 .553 .911
14 Matt Holliday Col 479 68 147 24 7 19 87 14 3 36 .307 .361 .505 .866
15 Randy Winn Sea 617 85 189 47 6 20 63 19 11 48 .306 .360 .499 .859
16 David Wright NYM 575 99 176 42 1 27 102 17 7 72 .306 .388 .523 .912
17 Brady Clark Mil 599 94 183 31 1 13 53 10 13 47 .306 .372 .426 .798
          Jason Bay Pit 599 110 183 44 6 32 101 21 1 95 .306 .402 .559 .961
19 Victor Martinez Cle 547 73 167 33 0 20 80 0 1 63 .305 .378 .475 .853
20 Hideki Matsui NYY 629 108 192 45 3 23 116 2 2 63 .305 .367 .496 .863
RK PLAYER TEAM AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB BA OBP SLG OPS
21 Travis Hafner Cle 486 94 148 42 0 33 108 0 0 79 .305 .408 .595 1.003
22 Miguel Tejada Bal 654 89 199 50 5 26 98 5 1 40 .304 .349 .515 .865
23 Ichiro Suzuki Sea 679 111 206 21 12 15 68 33 8 48 .303 .350 .436 .786
24 Aramis Ramirez ChC 463 72 140 30 0 31 92 0 1 35 .302 .358 .568 .926
25 Ken Griffey Jr. Cin 491 85 148 30 0 35 92 0 1 54 .301 .369 .576 .946
26 Carlos Delgado Fla 521 81 157 41 3 33 115 0 0 72 .301 .399 .582 .981
27 Mark Teixeira Tex 644 112 194 41 3 43 144 4 0 72 .301 .379 .575 .954
          Carl Crawford TB 644 101 194 33 15 15 81 46 8 27 .301 .331 .469 .800
29 Brian Giles SD 545 92 164 38 8 15 83 13 5 119 .301 .423 .483 .905
30 Luis Castillo Fla 439 72 132 12 4 4 30 10 7 65 .301 .391 .374 .765
RK PLAYER TEAM AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB BA OBP SLG OPS
31 Mike Sweeney KC 470 63 141 39 0 21 83 3 0 33 .300 .347 .517 .864
32 Coco Crisp Cle 594 86 178 42 4 16 69 15 6 44 .300 .345 .465 .810
33 David Ortiz Bos 601 119 180 40 1 47 148 1 0 102 .300 .397 .604 1.001
34 Robinson Cano NYY 522 78 155 34 4 14 62 1 3 16 .297 .320 .458 .778
35 Julio Lugo TB 616 89 182 36 6 6 57 39 11 61 .295 .362 .403 .765
36 Bill Mueller Bos 519 69 153 34 3 10 62 0 0 59 .295 .369 .430 .799
37 Joe Mauer Min 489 61 144 26 2 9 55 13 1 61 .294 .372 .411 .783
38 David Eckstein StL 630 90 185 26 7 8 61 11 8 58 .294 .363 .395 .758
39 Mark Grudzielanek StL 528 64 155 30 3 8 59 8 6 26 .294 .334 .407 .741
40 David DeJesus KC 461 69 135 31 6 9 56 5 5 42 .293 .359 .445 .804

Facts? (5, Interesting)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480082)

What, we can own facts now?

Somehow I'm not at all surprised.

Re:Facts? (2, Insightful)

buffer-overflowed (588867) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480098)

Bear in mind statistics are one of the most important components in baseball. More so than any other sport.

Not going to weigh in either way here, but thought that was worth bringing up.

Re:Facts? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480155)

I'm going to file a patent for the standard deviation, and the standard deviation of the mean. Every time someone uses a '±' symbol, I'm going to get $50!

Re:Facts? (5, Insightful)

Pofy (471469) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480246)

>Bear in mind statistics are one of the most important components in
>baseball.

So? It is still just facts. Weather statistics, like the temperature and wether the sun is shining or not is one of the most important components for anyone in meteorology, still doesn't mean no one else can tell about the weather yesterday they read about or saw.

Re:Facts? (1, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480281)

Bear in mind statistics are one of the most important components in baseball. More so than any other sport.

Bullshit

1) Do they show a screen of statistics and graphs with an inset of the actual game in the bottom right corner on TV? Why does anyone go to a baseball field when they could more comfortably access all the statistics at home?

2) You obviously haven't heard of cricket.

Re:Facts? (5, Funny)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480110)

Somehow I'm not at all surprised.

I happen to own your lack of surprise, it's all right here in this deed. You now owe me $5.00 for each occurrence that doesn't surprise you, or the viewing of anything in your surroundings that appears to be perfectly normal.

Re:Facts? (5, Funny)

jeeperscats (882744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480260)

I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.

Re:Facts? (4, Funny)

terrymr (316118) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480124)

That would be silly.

Of course I could argue that a cop can't write me a speeding ticket because i own the copyright in how fast i was travelling.

Re:Facts? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480169)

Holy crap. You might be on to something here. Now find a way to involve the DMCA!

Ooooooh (5, Funny)

AoT (107216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480142)

I got dibs on planck's constant!

That's nothing! (4, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480190)

I bought Avagadro's Constant and the Hubble Constant off eBay, and I own stock in e, pi and the golden ratio.

Re:Ooooooh (3, Funny)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480229)

Unfortunately, Microsoft has beaten you and patented 1 and 0. [theonion.com]

Re:Facts? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480200)

There have always been stupid people and there always will be. The question is who are the more stupid, those whos ideas are insanity manifest or we who allow such fools to be elevated to positions of power and authority? I will give you two quotes in the context of which my feelings will be self evident.

If I give you a pfennig, you will be one pfennig richer and I'll be one pfennig poorer. But if I give you an idea, you will have a new idea, but I shall still have it, too.

A Einstein

On two occasions I have been asked by members of Parliament, 'Pray, Mr.
Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers
come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of
ideas that could provoke such a question.

Charles Babbage

I myself cannot imagine the mental disorder neccesary to consider as information property or
the absence of realism which leads one to believe that it can be controlled. That we are even having this debate is quite surreal and fills me with optimism that by the logic of natural law our children will look back at the 'intellectual property' debacle at the start of the 21st century, and piss their pants laughing.

Hey (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480085)

Zonk, no one gices a fuck about baseball. So fuck off. Also, third post.

Stupid. (4, Funny)

NilObject (522433) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480088)

I have recently acquired the rights to myself as a statistic. You may license me as a single number in your statistics if you pay an appropriate licensing fee.

Otherwise, you must cease including me in your statistics, like so:

MLB Fans: 27 - 1

Boring (-1, Flamebait)

it0 (567968) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480090)

Who gives a fuck

Re:Boring (1)

daveatwork (655626) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480238)

Obviously my friend, you can't comprehend the weight of this decision and how the outcome can have implications to almost every part of your life. Hopfully, this is just someone trying to set a legal precedent simply because it's not been set before. With the way things are going, it seems that unless a decision has been made in the courts sometime before preventing an action, anything can be done. If you're imagination isn't creative enough to work out where this could end up, read 1984, written by a guy with a name exactly like that of a river running through Ipswich, England (I don't dare say his name, incase his publisher owns it...)

Crazy me (4, Insightful)

AoT (107216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480091)

I thought this whole IP thing coult not get any wierder.

Next the government will start copyrighting statistics they do not want to get out.

Shit, I shouldn't have said that, just gives people ideas.

Not the weirdest (3, Interesting)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480202)

There was a case in Texas, where building codes were copyrighted. In Veeck v. Southern Building Code Congress Int'l Inc., No. 99-40632 (5th Cir. 2002) [perkinscoie.com] the 5th circuit found that once the law was enacted, that the law once enacted became public domain.


Or it took an appeals court to rule that a cow is not a motor vehicle [ernietheattorney.net] .

Re:Not the weirdest (1)

AoT (107216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480216)

Yeah, I guess the age of the absurd really is upon us.

Re:Not the weirdest (3, Funny)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480256)

...there is no indication in the record that this particular cow had wheels. Therefore, it was not a motor vehicle and thus was not a "land motor vehicle" as defined in the policy.

WoW ! So other cows "may" have wheels?

This is deeep man !

Re:Crazy me (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480213)

Next the government will start copyrighting statistics they do not want to get out.


Nah... The US Govt cannot copyright documents. (It is *supposed* to be working for the public, remember?)

But with recent events, it can simply mark unfavorable data as being "national security" issue and choose to not make it available.

When you have some free time, try obtaining a copy of the TSA regulations for travel on flights (like the requirement of showing license/passport identification)... Some of these laws (that all passengers must follow) are not publicly available!!!

That's right... We are required to follow unpublished regulations whose text we may not view.

I haven't read 1984 yet. Perhaps I should -- while I still can.

Re:Crazy me (1)

AoT (107216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480237)

watch Brazil, by Terry Gilliam, instead; much more aprapos to the current situation. Make sure to get the version that is *longer* than 2h12m as there is a shorter censored version that is crap.

What the Slashdot community thinks (5, Insightful)

dorkygeek (898295) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480094)

What does the Slashdot community think? Shoud Barry Bonds' record 73 single season homeruns be in the public domain, or should I worry about having to pay royalties for the first part of this compound sentence?
The Slashdot community thinks: stop ending every story with those stupid questions.

Re:What the Slashdot community thinks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480109)

Damn right!

Re:What the Slashdot community thinks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480159)

What does the Slashdot community think? Should I agree with this poster or should I continue to not give a damn?

Re:What the Slashdot community thinks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480184)

I was thinking first post but I was too slow.

Re:What the Slashdot community thinks (3, Insightful)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480261)

No, he's serious.

He wants a bunch of people with no expertise in the area that he's asking about to tell him what to think.

That's why they have "Ask Slashdot," which is where he should have put that.

Poll (4, Insightful)

britneys 9th husband (741556) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480096)

According to the poll in the article, only 3% of the people responding agree with MLB. Given the recent declining popularity of baseball as it tries to compete with video games, hockey, extreme sports, arena football, DVDs, and internet poker, maybe they should take into consideration the opinion of their fans on issues like this.

Re:Poll (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480151)

maybe they should take into consideration the opinion of their fans on issues like this

It shouldn't be an economic decision. Things that occur are news, and the recording of these facts are the basis of history. To moneitize history, even the history of mere sport, is against the public interests. This is clearly the sort of thing that requires protection.

But... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480208)

Would they have to buy the rights to the poll in order to do so? But, then, if one of the Baseball celebrities voted in the poll, and they own the rights to all statistics involving Baseball celebrities, wouldn't that mean they own the poll already? And, if so, did they give the pollsters permission to release the results?


It is in questions like this that we find insanity^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hcthulhu^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hthe crux of the matter.

Re:Poll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480249)

One bad precident would indicate that news about companies, people, etc. is not only copyrighted by those who publish it, but "owned" by the entities that the news, history, etc. is about.

Will investigative journalists, government investigators, regulators, etc. then be bound to say or use whatever the entity wants?

That would be a bad thing. Really bad. I don't think that even George Orwell could forsee how bad it would be.

Imagine what would happen if another Enron situation were to start to come to light. Would reporters, bloggers, etc. be dragged into court for all sorts of yet-to-be-imagined "crimes" for sullying the "good" reputation of whatever entity was being questioned?

Boeing does not own its stock price on the world's exchanges. Why should MLB and MLPA "own" the statistics about its company?

steroids (1)

MindDelay (675385) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480097)

barry bonds record 73 home runs should be public domain and the public should know that he was juiced up when he hit all of them. the record books are tainted now, 61 is still the record. or 60 if you want to argue the number of games.

That's stupid (4, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480100)

Statistics aren't owned, they just *are*. I mean, any idiot can work out the stats by looking at who won what match, which is public knowledge.

Since the match results are public knowledge and the mathematical methods to work out the stats are both public knowledge and trivial, the result is public knowledge and can't be owned. Gee, Only In America©...

Re:That's stupid (2, Interesting)

Myen (734499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480112)

That brings up an interesting question - do people check the stats? Or do they fudge them, the way ancient cartographers added places to identify their work?

Re:That's stupid (1)

AoT (107216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480179)

Tons of fans record the stats as well. You see them at games with wierd little notepads.

Re:That's stupid (2, Interesting)

Imsdal (930595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480266)

Oh, yes, people do check the stats. There are pepople who have read every sports column from the 1920's in order to figure out exactly how many runs scored Ty Cobbs really did have.

Baseball statistics are easily downloadable in a database format with one line for every player season in MLB history. That is an amzing treasure trove of information, even for casual fans. Highly recommended.

Re:That's stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480150)

The term 'Only in America' is also statistically no longer valid.
Here in Oz we are getting more and more 'silly' American trends.
Long live common sense (and can someone send some back to America, they seem to be missing theirs......AGAIN!!!!

Re:That's stupid (1)

balloot (943499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480251)

Exactly. Is MLB somehow claiming that watching what happens and writing it down is some kind of novel concept that they can patent? On a related note, every web site in existence owes me royalties because I have patented hit counters...

Gross Nine Cents Per? (4, Informative)

EEBaum (520514) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480103)

The article says NINE PERCENT OF GROSS (9%), while the blurb says NINE CENTS PER GROSS ($0.000625 each). Big difference there, unless the blurb got that figure from somewhere not in the article.

That's just not cricket (5, Funny)

Aussie (10167) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480105)

Sorry.

Re:That's just not cricket (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480121)

:D

That's ridiculous! (5, Insightful)

AxemRed (755470) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480106)

With reasoning like that, I could go to the bar and drink 20 beers and then charge my friends royalties when they tell each other about it.

Seriously, though, do I even need to explain why this is ridiculous? How can publicly broadcasted factual information be property?

Re:That's ridiculous! (4, Insightful)

Sancho (17056) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480146)

From TFA:
Major League Baseball has claimed that intellectual property law makes it illegal for fantasy league operators to "commercially exploit the identities and statistical profiles" of big league players.

The more important issue is "identities." If they win this suit, tabloids, "entertainment" magazines about celebrities, news sites which talk about celebrities, etc. will all disappear or have to pay royalties for use of the identity of the celebrity. So personally, I'm hoping MLB wins this one, just so I don't have to read about Paris Hilton every other day.

Re:That's ridiculous! (1)

carl0ski (838038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480181)


Kofee annan
is in the encyclopeadia


His birthdate, age , term as leader of NATO, family, officials


if MLB wins this the above info will be striped from all public literature
reading
tv
Everything unless a royalty everytime a figure is mentioned.

Re:That's ridiculous! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480223)

The First Amendment delineates the "Freedom of the Press".

Re:That's ridiculous! (1)

Hyzenthlay (217457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480152)

Well, haven't we technically been in that state for a while? We don't necessarily copyright the story itself, but we do copyright the version. Suppose that beer outing of yours gets turned into a Hollywood screenplay; at that point, we can (and do) talk about "rights" to the story. Your friends could still talk to each other about the experience, provided they used their own version. It's not illegal for me to summarize the play for my friends later on, but I believe it would be illegal for me to perform it according to script without paying royalties to the owner. I'm not advocating this, mind you, but your example sparked a train of thought. I think what this means is that they are free and welcome to copyright their version of the story, but the summary - the facts - are still everyone's domain.

mlb overlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480108)

You know part of me almost wants the ruling to (initally) be in favor of the MLB. Then it goes all the way to the supreme court where we get a firm ruling that people cannot own facts or simple ideas. Of course the Blackberry/RIM case affected a lot of people in and connected to the government and yet we still here no real discussion on reforming our ridiculous IP laws.

In any case, remember that Simpson's episode with Mark McGuire everyone? The MLB IS WATCHING YOU SO BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU POST! THEY HAVE SPY SATELLITES!

Oh, and I for one welcome our new MLB overlords.

On the Subject of Baseball (2, Informative)

queenb**ch (446380) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480111)

This will probably offend all the MLB fans out there, but I really just don't care. These guys are already over paid. Attendance is down because the ticket prices and concession prices, which the teams get a cut of, are already far too high. I don't know about where you live, but it's $5 for a dixie cup full of beer here on top of a $45 ticket. That's a bit too steep. Add in a couple of kids, some hotdogs and some cokes, and you can easily spend $300 for crappy seats at the Baseball game. Now they want to try to wring more money out of the fantasy baseball leageues? These guys are going to corporate themselves to death. The new national sport will be soccer soon until the soccer players become overpaid, whiny, wimps too.

2 cents,

Queen B

Re:On the Subject of Baseball (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480138)

that's when you turn to college football!

Re:On the Subject of Baseball (3, Insightful)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480162)

But this isn't about baseball, this is about precedent. I really don't care about baseball, either, but I do care about what this means.

Re:On the Subject of Baseball (3, Interesting)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480192)

Well one might say there are multiple kind of precedent. There is precedent in the legal sense where our courts must decide whether these statistics can be owned, and there is also what one might call "historical precedent". Businesses will constantly try to bend the law in their favor, even if historically rulings have gone the other way. Big and powerful businesses have a pretty good chance of doing it, even. But if there's a historical precedent that back in the days of nought-six the MLB got too greedy and fans lost their connection and walked away... well businesses know there's no judge to whom they can argue to try to get that overturned. They'll be careful to not repeat those mistakes because their money depends on it.

(I guess it must be pretty hard to be greedy enough to be subject to the second kind of precedent, 'eh? We can see that in almost every industry. I guess that's why we need the lawmakers and courts to step in sometimes. I agree with you that this is one of those times.)

Re:On the Subject of Baseball (3, Interesting)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480276)

There's the flip side.

If they keep doing this, one of two things will happen.

1) Everything that you experience for your entire life will be monitored, controlled by, and owned by a corporate entity. They'll make sure that you're not exposed to ideas like "freedom of thought." You won't care, because you won't know that there is an alternative.
2) Sometime before that happens, people will understand what's happening, and how to stop it. When MLB goes belly up (because nobody wanted to go anymore anyway), they'll oust their congresspeople from office (who, by then, will be subsidizing baseball). They'll start voting correctly, and thinking correctly. We won't need a bloody revolution, we'll just have people who don't let these things happen.

Re:On the Subject of Baseball (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480293)

Oh, another option.

Laws will pass that say that major league sports can do this. Then scientific labs will do this. Eventually, someone will see that they're plunging us into a dark age, and stop voting with their subsidies, and start voting with their morals, and stuff like this will stop.

As an addendum, leagues that don't believe in these draconian tactics will pop up.

Re:On the Subject of Baseball (4, Funny)

beders (245558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480187)

The new national sport will be soccer soon until the soccer players become overpaid, whiny, wimps too.

Welcome to England

Phonebook? (5, Informative)

omega_cubed (219519) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480116)

They've gotta be kidding!

Aren't there precedents with phonebooks and such that while a particular presentation of facts can be copyrighted, the facts themselves cannot? If that is the case, what is the MLB's lawyer thinking when he advised the go-ahead on the exclusive license and refusal to let fantasy league operators use the stats at a price? Or are they using an alternative definition of "Intellectual Property" that I am not aware of?

Are they seriously trying to argue that records that a player set, as well as numbers calculated from the tabulated performance of an athelete are not facts? I seriously fail to see why MLB thinks that it has any ground here. Though, to be fair, TFA didn't give much insight to the MLB's argument since
Jim Gallagher, a spokesman for Major League Baseball Advanced Media, baseball's Internet arm, declined comment on the lawsuit...

Re:Phonebook? (1)

Deathbane27 (884594) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480170)

"Are they seriously trying to argue that records that a player set, as well as numbers calculated from the tabulated performance of an athelete are not facts?"

Cork bats, steroids... I'd say no, a lot of those records are not facts. :p

Re:Phonebook? (2, Funny)

xoboots (683791) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480269)

Are they seriously trying to argue that records that a player set, as well as numbers calculated from the tabulated performance of an athelete are not facts?

Perhaps they are admitting that the games are fiction -- so therefore fixed.

Re:Phonebook? (2, Insightful)

neoform (551705) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480284)

The way i see it, this is recorded history being liscensed out to people.

If i watched the game on tv and printed the stats from it, there is no way i'd ever be convinced i'd have to pay royalties on such information. it's like asking for royalties from me if i were to publish a summary of a book i read.

Cash (1)

Ctrl+Alt+De1337 (837964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480117)

MLB wants to cash in on the growing, and lucrative, world of fantasy sports. Services now are supplying stats that Major League Baseball collects and disseminates itself for their fantasy leagues. I think part of it is that MLB would like to make some money off of it to pay their own statisticians for their work. I also know that Bud Selig is a money-hungry scumbag, so it's not all pure intentions.

Re:Cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480183)

You're absolutely right... MLB is preparing to launch their own fantasy baseball league, and they're going to claim that they are the only ones legally entitled to do so.

It's going to get about as ugly as the citizens-vs-RIAA-vs-MPAA, litigation-wise...

Re:Cash (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480288)

No one has the right to benefit from anyone else's work for free.
It is the the right of the aggregator to allow others to purchase the results of their efforts. Debating the amount of effort required is immaterial. The fantasy leagues obviously felt it was enough of an effort to purchase the stats instead of keeping track on their own. Now they will have to look to another source for their stats or do it themselves. The information is available to whomever, and I doubt anyone is claiming ownership of the stats themselves, but the collection of the stats is a work that can be sold or not sold at the collector's whim.

The "tickets are overpriced and the beer's too small.. those greedy bastards.." argument sounds a lot like "these CDs I keep buying are fill with crappy songs.. those greedy bastards..". Fortunately the solution is the same for both:

STOP CONSUMING YOU BLOATED PIG
or
Go check out a local gig/game ('course local baseball has almost killed me from boredom, so it might be better to go Play some local baseball.)

Oh, this is a FANTASTIC idea! (5, Insightful)

One Blue Ninja (801126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480118)

This *is* Americorp, so of course this idea makes sense. You want people to have access to historical facts, for - FREE?? You communist bastard, somebody should lock you up for even SPEAKING such unpatriotic, un-Americorp propaganda!

In a related soon-to-be story, the Government, Inc. has now refused to licence statistical information on the number of U.S. casualties in Iraq, so anyone who reports this as anything other than "zero" will be arrested and detained, indefinately, with no access to a lawyer or due process - after all, you're obviously a terrorist sympathizer to commit such an act.

Similarly, all information on indigenous peoples in North America prior to the pilgrims is also unlicensed, so the people formerly known as "Native Americans" will no longer be entitled to run casinos or given any "special considerations".

And now, a sponsor message. (1)

CCFreak2K (930973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480120)

The number .276 is brought to you by the MLBPA.

Seriously, copyrights have been getting out of hand recently. This is rediculous. How can you own numbers?!

Who owns the statistics? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480122)

Nobody owns them, anymore than anybody owns the fact that D Day was June 6, 1944 or that General Lee lost the Battle of Gettysburg. Not only shouldn't MLB have the right to prevent the fantasy league from using them, the league should demand that MLB refund all the money they've ever collected for them.

It's about the identities of the players (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480125)

The issue is not whether Player X had 37 RBIs and 22 HRs last season. It's whether a business can be based off the names and identities of the players. I couldn't go around selling pictures of your mother without an agreement from her, she could sue me. This is why photographers have release forms for models (not that your mom is a model or anything).

Re:It's about the identities of the players (1)

Darthmalt (775250) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480231)

It's whether a business can be based off the names and identities of the players. U.S. weekly, people magazine and all other tabloids make a big buisness out of it. The players are considered celebrities who are in the public eye. Therefore their picture can be used without their explicit permission.

Re:It's about the identities of the players (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480250)

The Freedom of the Press doesn't extend to gambling sites, or to video games, or to my selling pictures of your mother. Look at it another way. If you wanted to publish a book with images of Mickey Mouse without permission from Disney, you'd end up with a legal ass-reaming that would make the goatse.cx guy look like a virgin.

Re:It's about the identities of the players (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480233)


  But if I build a pool based on your mother's broadcasted TV show of what cookies she baked, when, how many of each flavor, and how popular they were (all easily discernable by going to the show or through TV, radio, dozens of periodicals or the daily sportspage),

and then my buddies and I build a web page for this pool, and build a nice fantasy league about all the moms, for folks to bet on or argue about: WHAT, exactly, on our site would you or your mother own? The numbers? The input, or the derived numbers?

What if I built silly numbers applying numerological techniques to her name? Would she own those numbers? I mean, nothing says the values have to come from reality, so whats to own here? This is just greed.

Complicity (5, Insightful)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480131)

This is surely all part of the celebrity culture thing. "Celebrities" are created by lazy media sources (because, for instance, doorstepping drug addicted models is easier and cheaper than doing serious investigative journalism into drug addiction.) Then the celebrities decide that they no longer want the invasion of privacy...but, if it stops, so will their earnings soon after. In the same way, with artificially hyped games, the team owners want publicity because this creates a television and newspaper audience and so generates revenue, but then they decide that everybody must pay to have access to their "content" - which risks removing the popular activities which generate a demand for the content.

Let them do it and let them succeed. The faster that games return to a stadium only activity, the faster that television goes into terminal decline, the faster so-called celebrities disappear up their own anuses, the quicker we might get back to a society in which people actually do things instead of just consuming images and sounds. There is something deeply wrong in a society in which a basketball player is paid more than an entire team of Aids researchers, and advertising copywriters are paid more than government ministers.

Re:Complicity (1)

farble1670 (803356) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480245)

The faster that games return to a stadium only activity, the faster that television goes into terminal decline ... the quicker we might get back to a society in which people actually do things instead of just consuming images and sounds.

i would not say that sitting on your ass in a stadium watching sports is better than sitting on your ass at home doing the same thing.

Re:Complicity (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480283)

There is something deeply wrong in a society in which ... advertising copywriters are paid more than government ministers.
I dunno, have you seen a government minister do anything more than clamour for media attention?

Stupid stupid stupid (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480135)

If Major League Baseball wins the right to OWN and license FACTS [shudder], I immediately declare the licensing fee for my fax phone number to be $125,000.

-

IANAL but... (2, Insightful)

unborracho (108756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480136)

It seems like the MLB would be making the right move by simply letting them license. If they were to win, this would also allow other leagues such as the NFL to make the exact same argument and win by default based on this ruling. MLB Absolutely has the rites to take the Baseball historical data, archive it in a database, call the database scheme and raw data their intellectual property and sell queries to whoever is willing to pay the per-query fee.

If the argument here is "can they refuse service to this company legally?", I think that is much different than making the argument "MLB owns baseball data and no one else can use it without permission". The latter would never hold up in court.

Re:IANAL but... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480286)

That I noticed too.

Are they refusing to allow these fantasy leagues to use the statistics AT ALL? Or are they refusing to continue giving the leagues the statistics in a nice, neat little bundle of pre-formatted data?

The latter is dickish, but defensible. The former is asinine.

here's one they can keep (4, Insightful)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480149)

100% of my household thinks this is going too far. what's next? having a really good memory outlawed? i'm tired of the arguement "we lose money if.." maybe that's why drugs are illegal; drug dealers complained that "we would lose money if drugs were legal". it all makes sense now.. lemme get back to my drugs.

Only in the US! (tm) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480172)

Can we see stupid ideas actually enforced!

So much innovation yet so many dumb ones.

That depends (2, Insightful)

Daath (225404) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480173)

That depends! If the MLB collected the statistics, and just gave their customers some sort of database, spreadsheet or whatever, then of course they should get money for it.
If the fantasy league themselves have collected the statistics, then of course the MLB should not get a cent.

Re:That depends (2, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480254)

No. Doesn't work that way. Feist vs. Rural Telephone. Copyright protects only originality, not facts. See Feist vs. Rural Telephone. That's why you can scan in a phone book and put a search engine online.

Yeh, lock that shit up, you stupid dumbfscks (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480175)

Keep ALL your damn facts private. Make EVERYONE pay for the SLIGHTEST most trivial statistic, like most broken shoelaces in spring training.

And guess how many people will actually give a flying rat's ass about your damned monopoly game then.

You guys are so damned stupid. Entertainment THRIVES on the fans talking about things. You stop them from talking about major league baseball, they'll talk about softball, or semi-pro, or college, or anything but your stupid monopoly. You selfish twits must have left your brains behind with the placenta at birth, and the doctors flushed it down the drain.

Do you really think fantasy baseball DETRACTS from major league baseball? Are you really that stupid? Do you realize how much money those nuts spend on baseball? They're the ones that Hollywood made that movie about (Fever Pitch, I think). They decorate their rooms with baseball posters and go to spring training camps.

You guys are so short sighted you make the RIAA look like a bunch of visionaries.

Re:Yeh, lock that shit up, you stupid dumbfscks (2, Interesting)

Jerry Smith (806480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480292)

And guess how many people will actually give a flying rat's ass about your damned monopoly game then.

All of them. Teachers have to be recruited from Germany en France to teach US college kids simple math, yet any moron that can hit a ball faster than average gets scholarshipped all the way through adulthood. Stop supporting a system you disapprove of. Look, remember O.J. Simpson? What you probably didn't see (but the rest of the world did, they watch CNN) was that a lot of US people actually didn't care whether he killed his wife and lover or not: he was their sports hero.

You guys are so short sighted you make the RIAA look like a bunch of visionaries.

Well, it ís like taking candy from a baby. Care to talk about ethics?

You can't copyright raw information (5, Informative)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480193)

Facts and figures cannot themselves be protected by copyright (though the selection and presentation of them can, in a very limited form). That was established pretty unambiguously in Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Service Co., 499 U.S. 340 (1991).

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?c ourt=US&vol=499&invol=340 [findlaw.com]

There may be some protection under the 'hot news' doctrine (International News Service v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215 (1918) http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?c ourt=US&vol=248&invol=215 [findlaw.com] ), but I'm pretty sure modern courts would follow the reasoning of the 2nd Circuit (though not binding on non-2nd Circuit courts, unlike the Supreme Court opinions cited above, which are binding on all U.S. courts) in National Basketball Association v. Motorola, Inc., 105 F.3d 841 (2d Cir. 1997) http://www.law.cornell.edu/copyright/cases/105_F3d _841.htm [cornell.edu] ...

In summary, MLB can shove it, IM(ns)HO.

In other news... (1)

TheNoxx (412624) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480194)

Murdoch's News Corp. recently gained the rights to abject disgust, as it is currently the most thriving sentiment, running rife throughout what was once a great country, the United States.

And now, no sports at all. Go wash yourself with vigor.

Copyright of Non-Creative Works? (3, Informative)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480195)

It is my understanding that the relevant codes in the United States copyright laws formally define what is meant by creative work and what may be protected by copyright as any original creation of authorship in a tangible medium, although the law has been amended to include certain creative works, including computer software, which are not tangible in the traditional sense of the word. However, it would be quite a stretch to interpret the gathering of raw statistics, baseball statistics in this instance, as a creative work. If there is some other work created based upon these statistics, such as the formulation of a thesis or comparison, which is then written up in an article or paper and published then that would more readily, depending upon the content, fall under the definition of a creative work. In the practical sense it is perfectly reasonable for major league baseball, or indeed any other information broker, to gather and maintain a database of these statistics and charge whatever they wish for factual reports of this information. It seems to me that the statistics themselves, especially when presented outside the context of the game in which they originally occurred as part of broader comparisons, are not protected by copyright and therefore anyone who wants to sell such information is not impeded by copyright laws.

Note: I am not a lawyer and I do not mean for this to be taken as legal advice. It is merely the opinion of a private citizen and is presented as-is.

What? (3, Funny)

eekrano (757106) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480198)

Did you hear who won the Sox game? Yeah it was great! Who won? I can't tell you, I only sent the MLB a check for $20 in royalties and I already told 10 people. Seriously... if this one goes the wrong way if moving to Canada.... yeah I said it.

So, are the stats made up numbers? (3, Interesting)

Jamesday (794888) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480201)

The key question: Is MLB claiming that the statistics are original creative works (made up numbers:)) it can get a copyright on or facts? :)

Probably using the publicity rights of the players instead of copyright law. Not really good to claim you're making up the numbers... :)

Lies, damned lies, statistics... (1)

MadTinfoilHatter (940931) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480203)

Stupidity, horrible stupidity, American IP laws

...and we could probably make one about corporate greed as well. :-P

So in a year or so.. (3, Interesting)

LokiOfRagnar (260918) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480205)

Unless the MLB can claim IP on the game itself they will loose out eventually. In a year or so the fantasy leagues will be more competitive, more interesting and more commercial then anything the stadiums have to offer. Anyways, any sportsorganization that claims to have a world series but fails to have a team present at the real world cups does not have a legitimate claim on existence anyways..

cheers,
Loki.

This is similar to... (1, Offtopic)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480206)

This is similar to the *AA wanting to own any data produced, more importantly, charge for the use of that data. Comoditization of data is the first step down a long path to total corruption. Now, that was a lot to say in one sentence, but it goes like this: When any corporate entity can 'own' data, despite the fact that the data is out in the public use and domain (not as in for public domain) then the government granting those rights has lost all control, or more likely, never had control of anything. When a television program is broadcast on public airwaves, all the content of that publication is in the public domain... period. To say that it is owned, and use of it is licensed would require a Non-disclosure or licensing agreement be signed with the sale of every baseball stadium ticket. All baseball and opera (etc) critics would also need a license to tell the public what kind of 'data' can be obtained when attending the game or show. Essentially, this can be extrapolated to say that any company who employs you has to sign a license agreement to ensure that all data pertaining to you, and your work efforts is not used without appropriate license fees.

What I mean to say is that if this is upheld, then all hell breaks loose on data ownership. Several questions can then be asked:

Can people use my data without paying me? As in, if I participate in a survey, what licenses need to be signed? Can credit card companies or even the grocery store collect data about me without paying a fee?

It all sounds silly, but the principle is sound, data can not be owned, data wants to be free.

I agree that if you have a unique way of presenting data, you can charge for that as long as people will pay for your presentation of it. Imagine what the world would be like if CNN was only shown to people that paid for it by pay per view? Now imagine what the license key scheme would be like? How in the hell would sports bars work?

The best thing is for some of this silliness to come to light as legislation, then we can all tell legislators what we think... personally, I think baseball should just go away... problem solved, but that is just me.

Not just MLB, NBA sues too (3, Informative)

monkeyboy87 (619098) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480220)

I recall that the NBA was suing companies that were sending out the scores of games over some wireless pager or cells phones. I guess this means that you can pay the money for the license to a seat, but forget about SMS'ing somene or telling anyone what the score was.

It's very simple. (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480222)

If they want people to not know things about baseball players, they need to not say things about baseball players.

If I compile the statistics from reading the newspaper, or watching baseball games, or listening to the radio, they can take their licensing fees and stick 'em.

Having said that, I think that compiling baseball statistics is one of the most silly things to do ever...but that's just my opinion.

not suprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480225)

After all, MLB is one of the few 'bidnesses' in the US that has permission from the US to engage in an otherwise illegal cartel and is allowed to conduct an open trade in human beings. There is probably nothing they believe they can't get away with. I suppose the license on the ticket will now state that persons in attendance will not be allowed to talk about the game without the payment of an additional fee.

It Depends on Who Did the Recording (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480228)

The person or entity that does the actual recording of the data owns it. So if only Alice records the number of home runs, then Alice is the sole owner of that data. She can charge whoever uses that information. Now if Bob goes to all the games and records the home runs as well, then he can charge for his copy. He can even release it into the public domain and screw Alice over. Such is the nature of intellectual property.

Another example would be a biography. I write the story of my life, thus I own the copyright. No one can go and plagarize that. They need to do their own independent research to biograph my life. They can't copy willy nilly from my autobiography, lest they want an interesting final chapter.

Moral of the story: record your own damn data.

Prediction of story: sports fans unite create an open stastics site.

- Nolan Eakins http://nolan.eakins.net/ [eakins.net]

Countering indifference (1)

TopSpin (753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480230)

I tried. I really did. I just couldn't generate any concern particles reading this.

I have my own IP battles here in geek-land. If baseball fans are suddenly forced to become aware of the IP madness all around them, great. I suspect they won't be much use however; the MLB must only convince fans of a correlation between their IP rights and the construction of some new stadium or the acquisition of some uber pitcher.

This is news about IP and Baseball. The requisite parties are: lawyers and sports geeks. I'd rather the story appear on the non-MLB owned baseball fanboy sites (are there any?) and not here.

Ownership (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480240)

I'd suggest to go the Civil Code [wikipedia.org] of the USA and read carefully the chapter titled "About Ownership [wikipedia.org] ".
I'd bet that, like almost all other Civil Codes all over the world, it states that you can claim your exclusive ownership if and only if none else can prove the same.
If those results have been published in any way, anyone could have been collecting and arranging them in some suitable form.
You could claim the ownership on the collection (i.e. a file), but not on the data themselves, because they have been public and publicly available (on sport newspaper and TV shows).
It's more likely to be an action related to some stock market move. That is, it is very likely ... crap!

baseball (1)

foxhound01 (661872) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480268)

don't quite remember who said this originally, but it reminds me of a good quote...
"Without statistics, baseball would be as boring as golf."
And indeed it would be in my opinion. Also, that little blurb about telecasts being the sole property of MLB and cannot be redistributed or used for purposes other than home entertainment that they play in the commercials sometimes leads me to believe that they actually do have the right to the statistics, though i would like to see it released into public domain.

Ownership (1)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | more than 8 years ago | (#14480274)

I hereby claim ownership and IP rights to the symbol indicating the decimal point, and symbols indicating the numbers one through five, inclusive. Any derivative or combinatorial works are also covered under this IP. Reasonable licensing use and non-exclusive distribution rights are available.

Stupid lawyers missed yet another opportunity (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14480287)

I'm thinking that the first lawyer who conceives of a line of arguments should patent them as their intellectual property. Then the courts and eventually congress would have to deal with defendants who might not be able to afford to license their defense strategy.
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