Chris Sprigman alerted me to Major League Baseball's attempt to misuse copyright in its broadcasts to try to prevent sports websites from providing facts, real time, about ball games, play by play, urging that such speech constitutes an exhibition of copyrighted work.
Chris also pointed out a Second Circuit decision about basketball that makes it pretty clear that MLB's argument should be scored an error. Download file.
The Court recognized that camera work and commentary in coverage of a ball game involve "authorship" and are covered by copyright, but not the bare statistics or "plays" themselves. Here's the (law) Court slam-dunking the plaintiff's case:
"What "authorship" there is in a sports event, moreover, must be open to copying by competitors if fans are to be attracted. If the inventor of the T-formation in football had been able to copyright it, the sport might have come to an end instead of prospering. Even where athletic preparation most resembles authorship -- figure skating, gymnastics, and, some would uncharitably say, professional wrestling -- a performer who conceives and executes a particularly graceful and difficult -- or, in the case of wrestling, seemingly painful -- acrobatic feat cannot copyright it without impairing the underlying competition in the future. A claim of being the only athlete to perform a feat doesn't mean much if no one else is allowed to try."
Nothing but net!
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