Sports Make IP Play

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.”

Actually, no, Jim. It’s either in the public domain (for all purposes), or it ain’t. Details here from The National Law Journal.



Law Schools Seek to Regain Ability to Bar Military Recruiters

An organization of law schools and a group representing hundreds of legal scholars sued the Department of Defense and five other federal agencies yesterday, seeking to help universities and colleges that want to keep military recruiters off their campuses because of the department’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay men and lesbians.

The suit challenges the constitutionality of a federal law that punishes universities with loss of some federal money if they use their antidiscrimination policies to exclude military recruiters.

It follows a successful campaign by the Defense Department to force some of the nation’s most prestigious law schools to allow military recruiters on campus. In recent years, the department has advised Harvard, Yale, Columbia and 20 other universities that they could lose federal aid if they did not allow recruiters at their law schools. For some universities, the dispute put at risk hundreds of millions of dollars for research on everything from weapons systems to the humanities.

Get the whole story here from The New York Times.


A Broken Body, a Broken Story, Pieced Together

Want to know what really happened to Private Jessica Lynch, the now-famous American POW “rescued” from an Iraqi hospital? Chances are, you never will. It’s not clear that anyone ever will.

But in this exhaustive investigative piece, The Washington Post suggests that her injuries were most likely sustained in a car crash during an ambush, and may not have resulted from deliberate abuse at the hands of Iraqi combatants. In fact, it seems that Iraqi civilians probably did their utmost to care for her under the circumstances, and almost certainly saved her life. And other parts of the story we’ve all been told appear to be dubious, if not outright fabrications.

The main thing I distilled from The Post‘s story is a sense of the utter confusion and chaos of combat. Particularly the sporadic and random combat that occurred throughout Iraq in the early days of the “war.” It’s a good report, and worth the read.

(UPDATE: Looks like TalkLeft beat me to the punch on dissecting (blawgsecting?) the WashPost’s article.)


Judge Removed for Moral Turpitude

“The Commission on Judicial Conduct has determined that Calvin M. Westcott, a town court judge in Hancock, Delaware County, should be removed for having sex with a mentally retarded woman entrusted to his care, the New York Law Journal reports” here.


Iraqi Lawmakers Back Bill on U.S. Withdrawal

By Joshua Partlow
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, May 11, 2007; Page A12

BAGHDAD, May 10 — A majority of members of Iraq’s parliament have signed a draft bill that would require a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from Iraq and freeze current troop levels. The development was a sign of a growing division between Iraq’s legislators and prime minister that mirrors the widening gulf between the Bush administration and its critics in Congress.

The draft bill proposes a timeline for a gradual departure, much like what some U.S. Democratic lawmakers have demanded, and would require the Iraqi government to secure parliament’s approval before any further extensions of the U.N. mandate for foreign troops in Iraq, which expires at the end of 2007.

The neocons who put us in Iraq in the first place have been disgraced. Our own congress wants us out. Our own people want us out. And now the Iraqi “government” wants us out, too. What is it going to take to get George Bush to admit that the main thrust of his presidency has completely failed and that we need to get the hell out of Iraq, now? Will it take another Kent State?

The text in the box above is quoted from Joshua Partlow of the Washington Post.


On Hill, Anger and Calls for Hearings Greet News of Stateside Surveillance

Congressional leaders of both parties called for hearings and issued condemnations yesterday in the wake of reports that President Bush signed a secret order in 2002 allowing the National Security Agency to spy on hundreds of U.S. citizens and other residents without court-approved warrants.

Bush declined to discuss the domestic eavesdropping program in a television interview, but he joined his aides in saying that the government acted lawfully and did not intrude on citizens’ rights.

Right. And Dick Chaney is a benevolent, huggable nun. Details here from the Washington Post.


Breaking News From Oxyrhynchus

Eureka! Extraordinary discovery unlocks secrets of the ancients

Thousands of previously illegible manuscripts containing work by some of the greats of classical literature are being read for the first time using technology which experts believe will unlock the secrets of the ancient world.

Among treasures already discovered by a team from Oxford University are previously unseen writings by classical giants including Sophocles, Euripides and Hesiod. Invisible under ordinary light, the faded ink comes clearly into view when placed under infra-red light, using techniques developed from satellite imaging.

The Oxford documents form part of the great papyrus hoard salvaged from an ancient rubbish dump in the Graeco-Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus more than a century ago. The thousands of remaining documents, which will be analysed over the next decade, are expected to include works by Ovid and Aeschylus, plus a series of Christian gospels which have been lost for up to 2,000 years.

That’s pretty cool. Details here from The Indepenent.


Ashcroft Is Undeterred in Push for Capital Cases

Shortly after arriving at the Justice Department nearly four years ago, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft was faced with a new internal study that raised serious questions about the application of the federal death penalty.

A small number of federal districts, including pockets of Texas and Virginia, were accounting for the bulk of death cases. Experts decried the geographical disparities.

For Ashcroft, an ardent supporter of capital punishment, the solution was to seek the death penalty more often and more widely.

Attorney General Asshat is an evangelical Christian and is vehemently “pro-life.” So when he sees that too many people are being killed by the federal government in Texas and Virginia, what’s his solution? Kill more people everywhere else, so it won’t look so bad. Fortunately, his plan hasn’t worked very well.

Details are here in an excellent (and timely) piece from Richard B. Schmitt of the Los Angeles Times.


In the Streets, a Shadow Lifts

Some thoughtful words from John F. Burns of The New York Times in Baghdad:

As Iraqis struggled to grasp the impact of Saddam Hussein’s humiliating capture in a darkened spider hole near Tikrit, it was the television images of the fallen leader that kept replaying in their minds throughout the day on Sunday, just like the images played on their television screens.

The videotape taken by his American captors showed a disheveled old man, more like a hapless, disoriented vagrant than the tyrant whose quarter of a century in power bludgeoned 25 million people into cringing submission. A mythic strongman, so feared that his name set people trembling until only a few months ago, was suddenly reduced to pitiable, mumbling impotence.

On the streets of Baghdad, and across Iraq, people who danced out of their homes with paper American flags and raised their rifles for staccato bursts into the clear winter air paused to tell one another again and again what they had seen. They acted as if ceaseless repetition would make real what many called a dream, as if testing their sanity by checking that others had also experienced what they had seen.

Long into the night, the images replayed on televisions at kebab houses and grocery stores, in homes and hospitals. They showed the captured dictator opening his mouth obediently to an American doctor’s beam, sitting passively as his unkempt hair was searched for lice, patting his face as if to identify an aching jaw or troublesome teeth, pulling on his straggly beard as if pondering his fate.

As the mocking shouts grew louder in a thousand Baghdad streets, and across almost all Iraqi towns outside the sullen precincts like Tikrit that are still loyal to Mr. Hussein, it was possible to believe that Iraq’s nightmare had finally ended.

That is what President Bush proclaimed. The hope, as fervent among millions of Iraqis, was that the shadow Mr. Hussein cast for a generation over the Iraqi soul had passed, never to return.

Yet Americans may be wise to restrain hopes that Mr. Hussein’s capture will generate an early downturn in the insurgency that has taken the lives of more than 190 American soldiers since May 1, the day Mr. Bush proclaimed an end to major combat operations. At the same time, many more Iraqis have died.

And listening to the voices in Baghdad’s streets on Sunday suggested that the end of Mr. Hussein’s months as a taunting fugitive may not contain the other forces that have eroded American popularity. Mr. Hussein’s capture brought a surge in popularity for Mr. Bush and the American occupation, yet the inflexions in what the revelers said often sounded like a warning that the tide could just as easily break on the stony shores of unfulfilled Iraqi expectations.

The scenes that played out across much of Iraq were replicated in the celebrations that greeted the American capture of Baghdad, and the toppling of Mr. Hussein, eight months ago.

This time, American troops have done more than help topple a statue, having caught the man himself.

But few who witnessed the statue falling could have imagined the speed with which Iraqi opinions began to turn against the Americans as problems accumulated with failing electricity supplies, looting and lawlessness on the streets and lines outside gasoline stations that have stretched into days. Judging from the undertones in what many people said on Sunday, there was little reason to think that something similar could not happen again.

Read the rest of Mr. Burns’ long piece here.