August 9, 2006

Judge rules MLB baseball statistics are public

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A federal judge has handed the
billion-dollar fantasy baseball industry a shutout victory,
ruling that the names and game statistics of Major League
Baseball players are as public as the telephone book.

U.S. District Judge Mary Ann Medler in St. Louis, in a
ruling issued on Tuesday, sided with the free speech rights of
providers of fantasy baseball, in which participants pick
"fantasy" teams of players whose actual performances on the
field dictate who wins and who loses in the fantasy leagues.

The loser was baseball's licensing arm, Major League
Baseball Advanced Media L.P., which had argued the fantasy
leagues were stealing players' publicity rights.

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 an industry trade group.