Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

How much is that fantasy team worth to you?

Just read an interesting article, courtesy of my friend Mis Hooz of the FRT New York bureau. (Mike at The Daily Fungo posted on this earlier this morning.) I continue to be astounded by the greedy short-sightedness of professional sports leagues. According to this New York Times article by Alan Schwarz, Major League Baseball is contending that anyone who operates a fantasy baseball league for commercial purposes should pay a license for use of player names and performance statistics.

(Sites like ESPN, CBS Sportsline, and Yahoo! each paid MLB $2 million for the rights to use player names, roster photos, team logos, etc.)

The company that's being sued by MLB says that names and statistics are freely available from sources such as newspapers, and are therefore in the public domain. MLB counters that such information isn't being used by fantasy leagues for journalistic purposes, and if they're capitalizing on names like Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, and Alex Rodriguez for profit, they should pay for it.

I can't imagine that MLB would win such a case, but I'm obviously no lawyer. What's unbelievable to me is that baseball is willing to take on something that fuels such a passionate following of its sport. If MLB wants to spite fan interest - which fantasy sports unquestionably inspires - in the name of money, then they deserve the backlash and resentment that could result from such a cash grab.

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