Nearly as quickly as “integrity fees” began to emerge in state sports betting bills — starting in the Midwest and then spreading nationwide — questions began to emerge regarding what an integrity fee actually is.
Before what the fee paid for was clearly defined, the cost of protecting integrity in sports betting was lowered in some states from one percent of all wagers, to .25 percent of the handle.
There now appears to be a pivot from the “integrity fee” push to a data rights fee, which is effectively a legislative requirement that betting operators use official league data. Various sports league representatives have referenced “our intellectual property” leading to the question, what is the intellectual property of the NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL and NCAA that the executives are referencing?
Leagues or affiliated rights holders teams, distribution entities-MLB, NFL Films etc. own extensive intellectual property rights. Every televised broadcast contains a statement about the league’s ownership of the broadcast: “this broadcast is copyrighted by NFL productions….”
ly, the league and teams have intellectual property interests in their team names, logos, uniforms and even some of the colors they use. But what sports information beyond the broadcast and other enumerated property is owned by sports leagues is something of an open question.
Who owns what in sports?
The United States — in a Supreme Court filing by the Office of the Solicitor General — noted that while the broadcast of a sporting event is copyrightable, the events on the field do not constitute a performance, meaning they are outside the scope of things that can be copyrighted, the SG’s office stated:
“When a television network broadcasts a live sporting event, no underlying performance precedes the initial transmission-the telecast itself is the only copyrighted work.”
Similarly, in 1997, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the federal court for the Southern District of New York and stated that: “In our view, situs judi online the underlying basketball games do not fall within the subject matter of federal copyright protection because they do not constitute ‘original works of authorship….’”
In 2004, an antitrust case filed against the PGA Tour by Morris Communications argued that the PGA was violating antitrust laws by creating what was effectively a monopoly on real-time golf scores. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals found: “In this case, PGA met its business justification burden by showing that it seeks to prevent Morris from “free-riding” on PGA’s RTSS technology.”
Free-riding is a term that was recently mentioned by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, and applies in some circumstances where one entity invests costs into develop of something, and then another profits on the end product. But it is important to note that Morris was an antitrust case, not an intellectual property case, as the Eleventh Circuit articulated this case was: “not about copyright law, the Constitution, the First Amendment, or freedom of the press in news reporting.”
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