Thursday, August 10th, 2006
9:51 am - Reloading...  
So, having already shot themselves in the foot once, MLB Advanced Media are already reloading to do the same thing again. They are planning to appeal Tuesday's court decision that they they can't copyright factual data, and therefore can't charge licensing fees for the use of that data in fantasy baseball leagues. MLBAM is now going to try a different tack on appeal.

"We've agreed that the stats and names are in the public domain, but when you start to use teams logos and other images as CBC did, you need a license, it's that simple." -- Jim Gallagher for MLBAM

That approach will probably work, because now the case is dealing with trademarks rather than dubious copyright claims. The thing is that even if they win, it'll be a pyrrhic victory. Fantasy leagues don't really need team logos. The whole idea of a fantasy league is you draft a squad from the total pool of players, not individual teams. Putting a Cardinals logo next to David Ortiz's name on the draft sheet doesn't make him any more valuable in this context. (Video games, as I mentioned yesterday, are a different matter. There, you want to see the logo, and the uniform.) The fantasy leagues can just go ahead and remove the trademarked material, and go about their business.

King Kaufman had a good piece on this over at Salon yesterday in which he questions the economics of the whole idea, and whether it's worth the money MLB gets out of the deal to risk alienating its fans. The money baseball makes off of it is essentially chump change. With the last change in its licensing policy, MLBAM raised their fees somewhat, but they also reduced the number of companies it licenses from 19 to 7. Only the biggest media companies were allowed to stay, thus reducing the options available to the fans, and, you know, competition. It's all about control and power, and the fans take it up the rear once again.