Friday, February 03, 2006

Major League Basebal & Who Owns the Stats

Major League Baseball & Who Owns the Stats


I have been following your discussion on the problems with obtaining accurate minor league stats with interest. I am also aware of a law suit involving MLB and a fantasy league game owner over major league stats that seems to say SOMETHING (I am not sure what yet) about this issue. If you are not aware of this suit, it involves the insistence by MLB that a fantasy game pay it royalties for use of its stats since its statistical records and averages are NOT part of the historical record but rather are intellectual property belonging to MLB. You can find out more details by running a search on Google news. "Baseball statistics intellectual property lawsuit" seems to work. Anyway, this position seems to further your claim that MLB (and, by extension, all those dependent on it including affiliated minor league baseball and TSN) have no interest in preserving the historical record for its own sake. Only if it is to their financial advantage to do so. I would be very interested in your take on this. Thank you for your interesting blog.

eric wunderman

My take is that MLB doesn’t have a chance to prevail, primarily because the Supreme Court has already ruled— and copyright law so states— that facts are not copyrightable.  What I think is going on is that MLB’s lawyers are doing what shyster lawyers do all the time: They file frivolous lawsuit—  even thought they know they can’t win— because it will cost the other side so much to fight it that the other side will either decide to settle— or quit the business.

You will find that they will never sue the Tribune Company or the New York Times because they have deep pockets, and would simply say to MLB: “Make my day!”

The NBA lost their case against STATS; some software company beat one of the phone book companies over their published database that the company put on a CD-ROM.  

One sad fact: The only time MLB cared about the historical record was during the reign of— drumroll— Bowie Kuhn, who gave wholehearted support to the first edition of the Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia.


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