Thursday, October 9, 2008


American Law Daily - The Am Law Daily's fantasy baseball league mates pay $129 to CBS Sportsline to host our esteemed league. CBS, and other hosts, pass those fees onto fantasy players in part because professional sports leagues historically have charged the sites as much as $2.5 million annually for the right to use professional players' names and statistics.

Those fees for us fantasy nerds might disappear--or at least decline--if courts find that statistics and names are in the public domain and free to be used in fantasy games under the First Amendment. One court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, already ruled that way last year in a landmark case involving baseball statistics and player names. But the issue is far from settled, says Marc Edelman, a visiting assistant law professor at Rutgers who also owns Sports Judge, a Web site he set up to settle disputes between fantasy rivals. . .

The problem, Edelman said, is that different states have very different tests to balance the First Amendment against a celebrity's right to publicity--or the right to protect their ability to make money off of their name.

That's why CBS, building on the Eighth Circuit's ruling in the baseball case, filed its suit challenging the National Football League's licensing fees last month in federal district court in Minnesota--which happens to fall under the Eighth Circuit's jurisdiction. And that's why the NFL countersued six days later in federal district court in Miami, where the right to publicity enjoys broader protection against the First Amendment.

"The Supreme Court really needs to hear one of these cases," Edelman said Tuesday. "Because we're going to see a lot more of them."


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