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Who Owns Baseball Statistics? 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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Who Owns Baseball Statistics?

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  • Facts? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EEBaum ( 520514 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:44AM (#14480082) Homepage
    What, we can own facts now?

    Somehow I'm not at all surprised.
    • Re:Facts? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Feanturi ( 99866 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:53AM (#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? (Score:5, Funny)

      by terrymr ( 316118 ) <terrymr&gmail,com> on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:55AM (#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.
    • Ooooooh (Score:5, Funny)

      by AoT ( 107216 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:57AM (#14480142) Homepage Journal
      I got dibs on planck's constant!
    • Re:Facts? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 16, 2006 @04:14AM (#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.
    • Re:Facts? (Score:3, Funny)

      by NoSuchGuy ( 308510 )
      What, we can own facts now?

      The earth is a flat disk!

      For centuries it worked!

      Ask your GrandGrandGrandGrandGrandGrandMa

    • by tm2b ( 42473 )
      I'm not sayin' it's right, but I suspect that they'll go after not the facts per se, but use a strategy that depends upon the compilation copyright on how those facts are delivered en masse.

      An example: you can't copyright individual phone numbers, but the phone companies do own a compilation copyright on the collections of those phone numbers. Since MLB owns the broadcasts, and the derivitive works made from those broadcasts, I suspect that they'll say that the grouping of those statistics that is deliv
      • by cameldrv ( 53081 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:24AM (#14480595)
        Not since Feist v. Rural Telephone Service. Facts compiled without any creativity are not copyrightable. The case I mentioned above was specifically about copying phone books wholesale, and the Supreme Court ruled that the phone book could not be copyrighted.
        • While the document does, in fact state that the facts themselves aren`t copywritable (Only their arrangement and selection), all data is derived from members of the MLB organization. Though this information was generated through observation of the players` physical exertion, one could possibly construe a baseball players` performance as an original expression of his physical acuity. It`s a show he puts on for the spectators, and information gathered from that performance could possibly be copywritable.

    • by john-da-luthrun ( 876866 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:43AM (#14480469)

      I'm not sure what the US position is, but in the European Union we have "database rights" that are rights in a database as a whole, rather than in the data held within that database. So in the case of baseball, there's nothing to stop you revealing that so-and-so scored 70 home runs in a season, but you might be prevented from systematically using the database in order to compile a searchable database of home runs per season across all players over the past 50 years.

      That said, attempts by sporting bodies in Europe to enforce these rights have not met with success. For example, the British Horseracing Board tried to stop the bookmakers William Hill from using the BHB database of pending horse races for its website, and various football governing bodies tried to use database rights to force companies publishing TV listings (TV companies, newspapers etc.) to pay royalties for including details of football fixtures in their listings.

      All these attempts failed when the European Court of Justice held that the sporting bodies had not invested sufficient resources in creating these fixtures databases. All the effort had actually gone into arranging and managing the fixtures in order to run the actual sport, and getting a database that could then be licensed to others was just a by-product of this main activity, rather than something needing sufficient effort in its own right to qualify for database rights.

    • Re:Facts? (Score:5, Informative)

      by galgon ( 675813 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:09AM (#14480541)
      This lawsuit is less about facts and more about players identities. A newspaper saying ballplayer X has a .241 batting average is legal because of freedom of the press and the fact that the newspaper is not using the identity of the player for commercial reasons. However, selling a product, such as baseball cards, with a picture and stats on the back is commercially using the players identity. This is a fine line I know.

      The battle going on here is whether using the players names and stats in a fantasy game amounts to using it commercially or not. This article gives a really good summary: er-2005/argument_schwarz_novdec05.msp []
      • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by msauve ( 701917 )

        A newspaper saying ballplayer X has a .241 batting average is legal because of freedom of the press and the fact that the newspaper is not using the identity of the player for commercial reasons.

        Where did you find a non-commercial newspaper? All of the major newspapers around here are for-profit, some owned by quite large corporations (i.e. Advance Publications []). Both the newspaper and the fantasy league are reporting sports statistics for profit making, entertainment purposes. There is no distinction base

      • Re:Facts? (Score:3, Interesting)

        A little additional clarification. The referenced article basically says that players own their names and likenesses, for marketing purposes. The baseball owners are trying to claim that the statistics are part of the "identity" of the player, which would allow them to prohibit commercial use under same trademark laws that prohibit using players pictures and names on products.

        It's a sneaky proposition, and hopefully the judge will toss it out.

    • Re:Facts? (Score:5, Informative)

      by dominator ( 61418 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @09:35AM (#14481175) Homepage
      No, you can't copyright facts or even collections of facts. SCOTUS has decreed that Copyright doesn't attach to them in the 1991 landmark decision of Feist v. Rural [].

      The ruling has major implications for any project that serves as a collection of knowledge. Information (that is facts, discoveries, etc.), from any source, is fair game, but cannot contain any of the "expressive" content added by the source author.
    • Re:Facts? (Score:3, Funny)

      by tdemark ( 512406 )
      See that ship over there? They're re-broadcasting Major League Baseball with implied oral consent, not express written consent -- or so the legend goes.
  • Stupid. (Score:5, Funny)

    by NilObject ( 522433 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:46AM (#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
  • Crazy me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AoT ( 107216 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:46AM (#14480091) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by dorkygeek ( 898295 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:47AM (#14480094) Journal
    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.

  • Poll (Score:5, Insightful)

    by britneys 9th husband ( 741556 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:48AM (#14480096) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Associate ( 317603 )
      How about their specific non-fans, or anti-fans. I for one hate baseball. If this whole who-ownes-the-stats thing brings it down, I'm all for it.
  • That's stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:49AM (#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 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by d474 ( 695126 )
      That should read: "Ameri©a"
  • by EEBaum ( 520514 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:51AM (#14480103) Homepage
    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.
  • by Aussie ( 10167 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:51AM (#14480105) Journal
  • That's ridiculous! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AxemRed ( 755470 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:51AM (#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?
    • by Sancho ( 17056 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:59AM (#14480146) Homepage
      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.
      • Do they compile statistics for "best hitter convicted of a DUI"?

        What about "Drug of choice for a Hall of Famer?"

        Maybe the most interesting ones would be "Most hits and runs by a player convicted of hit-and-run..."

        This stuff makes me despise sports even more than I do now.
  • by queenb**ch ( 446380 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:53AM (#14480111) Homepage Journal
    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
    • by civilizedINTENSITY ( 45686 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @04:03AM (#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.
      • by Al Dimond ( 792444 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @04:13AM (#14480192) Journal
        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.)
      • by NitsujTPU ( 19263 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @04:36AM (#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.
    • by beders ( 245558 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @04:11AM (#14480187) Homepage

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

      Welcome to England

  • Phonebook? (Score:5, Informative)

    by omega_cubed ( 219519 ) <{wongwwy} {at} {}> on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:54AM (#14480116) Journal
    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...
    • by xoboots ( 683791 )
      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.
  • by One Blue Ninja ( 801126 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:54AM (#14480118) Homepage
    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".

  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:55AM (#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).
    • by J0nne ( 924579 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:16AM (#14480388)
      by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

      Did you pick your nick yourself, or is that what people call you? Because it's spot-on ;-).
  • Complicity (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Flying pig ( 925874 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:56AM (#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.

  • IANAL but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by unborracho ( 108756 ) <> on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:56AM (#14480136) Homepage
    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.
  • by pintomp3 ( 882811 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @03:59AM (#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.
  • That depends (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daath ( 225404 ) <lp AT coder DOT dk> on Monday January 16, 2006 @04:07AM (#14480173) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Animats ( 122034 )
      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.
  • by crankyspice ( 63953 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @04:13AM (#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). ourt=US&vol=499&invol=340 []

    There may be some protection under the 'hot news' doctrine (International News Service v. Associated Press, 248 U.S. 215 (1918) ourt=US&vol=248&invol=215 [] ), 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) _841.htm [] ...

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

    • Sir,

      Your legal precendents are no match for our crack team of high priced lawyers.

      To ensure this fact, we have purchased the rights to the rights to the facts concerned in the cases you sight. As a result, any lawyer or judge who considers them will be forced to retire, without pension.

      If you object to this, make moves to object, are seen or heard to object, or are seen or heard to be in a position facilitating objection, we reserve the right to legally force you in bankruptcy and/or exile and/or prision and/or Guantanamo Bay.


      MLB Inc.

      Thought For The Day: 'Greed Is Good.'
  • by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @04:13AM (#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? (Score:3, Funny)

    by eekrano ( 757106 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @04:14AM (#14480198) Homepage
    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.
  • by Jamesday ( 794888 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @04:15AM (#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... :)
  • So in a year or so.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LokiOfRagnar ( 260918 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @04:15AM (#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..

  • by monkeyboy87 ( 619098 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @04:20AM (#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.
  • Facts versus ideas (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Antony-Kyre ( 807195 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @04:45AM (#14480300)
    There's a difference between facts and ideas. Facts simply exist, they are what they are. However, ideas, such as stories, which aren't necessarily facts, should be handled differently. It would be one thing to say certain facts about a certain person. It would be entirely different to go out and tell a fictional story someone has copyrighted.
  • by Max Nugget ( 581772 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:04AM (#14480359)
    Considering that MLB would almost certainly lose if they tried to make this argument in court, looking their gift horse in the mouth was not the smartest of ideas, methinks.

    They were getting PAID by companies to license information that's in the public domain. They should have kept to chuckling in the boardroom and stayed quiet on what was a great deal for them. Instead they've thrust the issue into the spotlight. If this company succeeds in court, more and more licensees may decide that licensing stats from the MLB is a stupider idea than, say, using those stats for free...
  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:05AM (#14480362)
    "We now live in the ownership society. They own it, and you can rent it for a fee"

    Glen Phillips - August 30, 2005, Jammin Java Cafe'

  • control information (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pintomp3 ( 882811 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:12AM (#14480380)
    is this the begining of being able to rewrite history? if only one holder is allowed to posses the statistics, won't it make it difficult to disprove the information? can dell start saying "only .01% of our computers break in the first 10 years"? i could just be over-reacting, but officially single-sourcing information, if that's where this might lead, is a scary road.
  • by starX ( 306011 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @05:22AM (#14480403) Homepage
    Obligatory Onion link. []
  • by goldcd ( 587052 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:02AM (#14480517) Homepage
    is surely a big swirly pattern on the screen after each match
    "You will forget who won, you will forget who won, you won't pirate our stats."
    It must really piss them off with all the DRM they're intent on sticking on media they can't actually do this. Just imagine the fun of being able to resell you the same match every week. In fact they'd just need to tape one game, fire the players and broadcast the tape in loop.
    New legislation will be passed making the Person2Person sharing of stats illegal - MLB agents will be kicking down the doors of mothers whose children discussed results in the playground.
  • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @06:37AM (#14480622)
    that if you want statistics for running your fantasy league, then you either get a license and pay them for them, or else do the legwork yourself and compile your own stats by putting your own trackers into all the games and doing the number crunching with results you've obtained for yourself... of course, if you try that approach, we'll soon see them claiming copyright in the names of the players...
  • by malkavian ( 9512 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @08:26AM (#14480893)
    Cricket and Baseball have similarities in that they're both highly statistics based games.
    In Cricket, the scores are most definitely public domain. I used to work for a company called Cricinfo [] as one of their admins in it's earlier days, and it's stats database (statsguru) is arguably the most complete source of statistics for cricket in the last few decades.
    It was started by a group of fans into an ongoing company, simply because the stats on cricket were public domain. And it's raised a good sum of money in sponsorship for cricket along the way, and been a focal point for fans around the world.
    Now, if the statistics for Cricket were deemed to be in the public domain, as it was quite possible for people to watch the match, tell someone else, and they could discuss it anywhere at any time, what makes Baseball different (apart from the fact that the organisers are trying to gouge money on everything they possibly can)?
  • by optimus2861 ( 760680 ) on Monday January 16, 2006 @12:30PM (#14482462)
    One thing that I haven't seen brought up in the comments yet is how bloody stupid MLB is being here. The people who play in fantasy leagues are quite likely to be die-hard baseball fans, the ones who can rattle off all the stats for their favorite players at the drop of a hat, watch all the scores & hilights to keep up with the players they've got on their fantasy teams, talk a lot about the sport with their friends, and of course, go to games. Telling these fans that they can't play in their fantasy leagues any more because the stats are MLB property and nobody's allowed to use them would seem to me a sure-fire way to provoke a very angry reaction amongst those fans. Now they're not going to games, they're not spending money on your stuff, and they're telling their friends to do the same, and telling them why.

    There's no win here for MLB. Either they lose the case, which makes them look stupid, or they win it, which makes them look heavy-handed. One would think any competent PR person could tell them as much -- assuming MLB has any, that is.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"