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 "Fantasy Sports Providers Win the Right to Use Players..." 
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Post "Fantasy Sports Providers Win the Right to Use Players..."
Fantasy Sports Providers Win the Right to Use Players Names and Statistics
by: Marcus Whittman




Fantasy sports are an $800 million dollar industry in the United States with some 27 million players. Fantasy sports players typically draft a team of professional athletes before the season begins, and utilize statistical programs on player performance, as well as other software tools, to create a winning team.

Fantasy Sports Lawsuit History

What motivates fantasy sports enthusiasts to play the game? Some fantasy sports websites provide a large cash prize to winning teams. For many years, the Major League Baseball and the NFL Players Association have been demanding (and in many cases receiving) licensing fees from fantasy sports websites for use of actual players’ names and stats.

Back in 2005, CDM, a fantasy Sports baseball company, sued the Major League Baseball Association (represented by Advanced Media) for the right to use players’ names and stats without paying licensing fees. The fantasy sports company won based on the fact that first amendment rights hold that the information is in the public domain and does not fall under intellectual property rights.

In 2006, a similar case was presented in Saint Louis. This time, Judge Mary Ann Medler refused to even hear the case. She ruled that fantasy baseball leagues were free to use player statistics and names because they are not the intellectual property of Major League Baseball or the Players Associations.

The Fantasy Football Lawsuit that Proactively Challenged Licensing Fees and Won

In 2008, CBSSports.com acted proactively to eliminate licensing fees. The online fantasy sports provider brought a suit against the NFL Players Association in Minnesota, for the right to use players’ identities and stats without paying licensing fees. U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery ruled that names and stats are protected under the First Amendment. After winning the case, CBSSports.com added college football leagues to their roster and took the ruling to apply to all fantasy sports. Although there is an appeal on the case, it is apparent that a precedent has been set with the Major League Baseball Players Associations ruling.

Fantasy Football Players Blog About Lawsuit

Many fans in the blog-o-sphere are disgruntled by the greed of the MLB and NFL Player’s Associations. Alec, of ScreamingSports.com said that major league sports fans already pay enough money to watch live games. “I mean these guys don't make enough money without once again screwing the guys who support them? Bad enough I have to eat $6 hot dogs and $8 beers at a game. Now you want a piece of my fantasy team?”

A New Fantasy Sports Website CEO Comments on Ruling

Fantasy sports providers are pleased with the ruling, which eliminates licensing fees and improves their profit margins. It also widens the field for new companies to be born. Jason McCoy, CEO of Stinkball.com says “CBSSports.com sued the NFL Players Association because they wanted to be free to run their business as they saw fit. With the success of this case it allows for new concepts in fantasy sports to emerge without fear the MLB or NFL Players Associations can charge outrageous licensing fees. The CBSSports.com case is good news because it opens fantasy sports to new, innovative ideas that are being brought to the marketplace.”

The website http://www.Stinkball.com, is a new fantasy sports site which offers a $10,000 grand prize at the end of the season for the worst performing team. There are also weekly and seasonal prizes. This concept in fantasy sports is quite different from a focus on acquiring the best players who put up the best performances. Yet the same methods of tracking players and performance still applies, only now the fantasy player must take into account interceptions, fumbles, sacks, and more in order to build the worst team.

With legal precedents set regarding players’ stats and names in the public domain, the fantasy sports industry could very well takeoff in uncharted directions, adding diversity to the games and bringing more excitement for players.


About The Author
An accomplished athlete in his high school days, Marcus Whittman is a sports writer freelancing for the fantasy football web site http://www.Stinkball.com. Whittman enjoys watching live games and putting together a variety of fantasy sports teams each season.

Visit the author's web site at:
http://www.Stinkball.com




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Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:11 am
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