CHICAGO (Reuters) – A federal judge has handed the billion-dollar fantasy sports industry a shutout victory, ruling that the names and game statistics of Major League Baseball players are as public as the telephone book.
The league’s licensing arm and players association said it would appeal Tuesday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Medler in St. Louis.
Participants in fantasy leagues pick teams of players whose performances on the real-life field dictate who wins and who loses in the fantasy league.
The loser in court was Major League Baseball Advanced Media L.P., which had argued along with the players’ association that the fantasy leagues were stealing players’ publicity rights.
“We continue to believe that the use of the players, without their consent, to create this type of commercial venture is improper,” MLB Advanced Media and the MLB players’ association said in a statement.
But Medler disagreed, granting summary judgment without a trial to fantasy sports provider C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing Inc. of St. Louis.
“Clearly, the names and playing records of Major League Baseball players as used by CBC in its fantasy baseball games are akin to the names, towns and telephone numbers in a phone book, to census data, and to news of the day,” Medler wrote in her 49-page ruling.
As many as 18 million people play fantasy sports ranging from car racing to football — with much of the activity conducted online. Spending on the industry totals $1 billion, according to a trade group.
Stealing their publicity rights? MLB allows the MSM to cover the sport. Newspapers every day print boxscores, why not sue them? For they are obviously stealing MLB’s publicity rights.
I’m not legally trained but unless a sport wants to play in a vacuum with no media or fans present, you would think what they do can be made public. We can chalk this up as a victory for fantasy and Strat-O-Matic Baseball enthusiasts.
On a side note- I used to play competitive SOM from 1996-2001 and won multiple touirnaments during that time.
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