Date: Wed, 22 May 2013 12:45:09 +0200
- Silicon Valley Media Law Blog
1st Amendment prevails in fantasy league case
The 8th Circuit issued an opinion today in the fantasy baseball case, CBC Distribution & Marketing v. MLB Advanced Media, in which MLB asserted that fantasy leagues need permission to use players' names and other data.
The court affirmed the district court ruling, which held that the First Amendment trumps the player's publicity rights and thus permits usage without a license. The court also confirmed that the "no-challenge" and "no-use" clauses of the prior license agreement were unenforceable, but not on public policy grounds (as the lower court found), but rather on a technical point about breach of warranty of title in the publicity rights by MLB. See prior post about the lower court ruling.
My partner Glenn Colton filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association. Glenn also writes the Week That Was column for Rotoworld.com about fantasy leagues. He offered these thoughts on the victory:
"Today's decision from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals is a major victory for the fantasy sports industry, fantasy sports players, and most importantly, the protection of free speech and expression. Specifically, the Court ruled that the interests protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution outweigh any alleged harms to professional athletes from the use of their names in fantasy sports games.
"Notably, the Court went out of its way to point out how "handsomely" players are already rewarded for their performances and endorsements. In the final analysis, the decision drives another nail in the coffin of Major League Baseball and its players association's attempt to wrest control of the fantasy sports industry from the pioneers that worked long and hard to build and create the thriving national hobby millions enjoy today."
Here are some interesting posts today on the case: