Skip to content

Athletic access cases

Post categories

  1. Newsgathering
From the Winter 2008 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 9. Several cases have addressed the issue…

From the Winter 2008 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 9.

Several cases have addressed the issue of access to certain athletic events and data with outcomes on both sides of the issue.

WCBV-TV v. Boston Athletic Ass’n, 926 F.2d 42 (1st Cir. 1991):

A TV station’s broadcast of the words "Boston Marathon" in connection with the well-known race was not a violation of the race owner’s trademark rights, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston ruled. The marathon had contracted with a different Boston station to air the race and had hoped to prevent rival WCBV from broadcasting the event without paying a licensing fee and from showing the phrase "Boston Marathon" on the screen while showing the race, but the court held that the phrase was simply descriptive of the event and could not be prohibited.

National Basketball Ass’n v. Motorola, Inc., 105 F.3d 841 (2nd Cir. 1997):


Real-time transmissions of scores and other data about NBA games in progress is not a misappropriation under New York law, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan held in 1997. The court stated that athletic events are "uncopyrightable."

Morris Communications Corp. v. PGA Tour, Inc., NO (11th Cir. 2004):

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled in 2004 that the PGA has a property interest in its compiled golf scores and may charge a licensing fee to anyone interested in disseminating those scores without violating First Amendment or free press rights. At the time, media groups opposing the ruling, including the Reporters Committee, argued to allow a private entity to have a property right in the facts of a sporting event would threaten their ability to report news.

CBC Distribution & Marketing, Inc. v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media, 505 F.3d 818 (8th Cir. 2007):

Player names and statistics, however, are not the intellectual property of Major League Baseball, the U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis ruled in a 2007 case brought by a fantasy baseball business. The First Amendment takes precedence over the players’ rights to be protected from unauthorized publicity, the court ruled, stating that the fantasy company is disseminating the same statistical information found in newspapers every day.