The professional sports industry has become entangled in an emerging web of intellectual property litigation over issues ranging from who owns player statistics in fantasy leagues to who possesses the view of a baseball park.
Legal experts say technology-specifically the Internet-is revolutionizing the way fans view and participate in sports while simultaneously creating a host of new legal headaches for the sports industry. In the last two years alone, more than a dozen copyright infringement and other IP-related suits have popped up in the sports world.
And the sports industry, attorneys note, is struggling to keep pace with technology, claiming that numerous copyright violations are occurring through new media they can’t control.
The leagues have complained about Fantasy sports websites using player statistics; “real time” webcasting of games; and even TiVo. And get this:
“Player statistics are in the public domain. We’ve never disputed that,” [Jim] Gallagher[, senior vice president, corporate communications for MLB Advance Media,] said. “But if you’re going to use statistics in a game for profit, you need a license from us to do that. We own those statistics when they’re used for commercial gain.”