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Can baseball player names and statistics be copyrighted? Major League Baseball tried to make that case before a three-judge panel at the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit today. 老域名出售

Last year, Major League Baseball was sued by fantasy sports site CDMsports.com after MLB told the company that it could not use player names and statistics in its fantasy leagues without MLB's permission—and a royalty payment. CDMsports.com's lawsuit was intended to guarantee that it could continue using the data in the absence of an agreement with MLB. Further muddying the situation was MLB's decision to sever ties with smaller fantasy outlets in favor of larger outlets—and larger rights fees.

Last August, a US District Court judge agreed with the fantasy league, ruling in a summary judgment that First Amendment concerns trumped any "right of publicity" MLB might have. "The names and playing records of major league baseball players as used in CBC's fantasy games are not copyrightable," wrote Judge Mary Ann Medler in her opinion. "Therefore, federal copyright law does not preempt the players' claimed right of publicity."

In announcing plans to appeal the case, MLB decided that focusing on the stats was the wrong way to go. "We've agreed that the stats and names are in the public domain," MLB Advanced Media spokesman Gallagher said after the ruling. "But when you start to use team's logos and other images as CBC did, you need a license, it's that simple."

Instead, MLB's lawyers once again made the argument that publicity rights were of paramount concern, according to the AP. One of MLB's attorneys said that a fantasy league using names and stats without permission was analogous to a company printing posters or coffee mugs with pictures of players on them without permission. The judges appeared to be skeptical of MLB's arguments. "MLB is like a public religion. Everyone knows (the players') names and what they look like," opined U.S. Judge Morris Arnold. "This is just part of being an American, isn't it?"

Fantasy sports are a multimillion-dollar business, and MLB—and other professional sports leagues—are intent on protecting their properties in order to wring every last bit of licensing revenue out of them. If the appeals court upholds the ruling, fantasy sports will be one avenue of exclusivity closed to the leagues.


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