When CBC Marketing was victorious last August against MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) and the MLBPA in what has been deemed the "Fantasy Stats" case in a St. Louis US District Court ruling, MLBAM had always said that they would work to overturn the ruling in a higher court.
Tomorrow, oral arguments will be made in the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (the tentative docket is 9 AM in the En Banc Room on 28th floor, Eagleton Federal Building in St. Louis) in that appeal.
For those that have not followed the case, CBC Marketing, who owns CDM Fantasy Sports sued MLBAM over the right to use statistics for their Fantasy Sports games without licensing from MLBAM (and the MLBPA who jointly agreed to license online material associated to player's names and their stats). MLBAM argued that the stats themselves were not part of the intellectual property debate, but rather associating players names and numbers to them. In those instances, they had the right to assign a limited number of licenses and their fees to use the stats in association to the players.
US District Court Judge Mary Ann Medler ruled that MLBAM did not have that right. In her Summary she wrote:
For the reasons more fully set forth above, the court finds that the undisputed facts establish that the players do not have a right of publicity in their names and playing records as used in CBC’s fantasy games and that CBC has not violated the players’ claimed right of publicity. The court further finds, alternatively, that even if the players have a claimed right of publicity, the First Amendment takes precedence over such a right. The court further finds that the undisputed facts establish that the names and playing records of Major League baseball players as used in CBC’s fantasy games are not copyrightable and, therefore, federal copyright law does not preempt the players’ claimed right of publicity. Additionally, the court finds that the no-challenge provision of the 2002 Agreement between CBC and the Players’ Association and the provision of this Agreement which prohibits CBC from using players’ names and playing records after the expiration of the Agreement are unenforceable based on public policy considerations. The court finds, therefore, that declaratory judgment should issue in CBC’s favor.
MLB and the MLBPA released the following statement shortly afterwards:
We are disappointed by the Court’s decision yesterday in CBC v. MLBPA and MLBAM. We expect to appeal the decision, and remain confident that we will prevail in that effort. We continue to believe that the use of the players, without their consent, to create this type of commercial venture is improper.
Tomorrow continues the process of determining who owns the rights to player statistics.
A new Fantasy Stats section has been created in the Business of Baseball Documents library. Look for updates to follow.
- Appellant MLBPA Brief and Addendum for Oral Argument
- Amicus Briefs Urging Higher Court to Reverse Ruling In Favor of CBC (NBA Properties Inc., NHL Enterprises, L.P., NFL Ventures, L.P., National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR), PGA Tour, Inc., WNBA Enterprises, LLC, NFL Players Association, International Licensing Merchandisers' Association Inc.)
- Amicus Briefs in Favor of CBC Marketing, Inc, (Fantasy Sports Trade Association, First American Real Estate Solutions, LLC, Reed Elsevier Inc., and Transunion Inc.)
SUPPORTING PDF FILES FOR THE US DISTRICT COURT RULING IN AUGUST OF 2006