Boxed Scores


One way to distinguish libertarians from conservatives—aside from the (open) affinity for drugs and weird sex—is that the latter are required by some bylaw of the movement to care about baseball. I don't, so I had to rely on a friend to forward me this interesting story about a dispute between Major League Baseball and a company that runs fantasy sports leagues over control of ballplayers' stats. The company kept running its fantasy baseball league after MLB declined to renew a license for the stats—now they're in a legal tussle over whether players' records are covered by intellectual property law.

I'd think this could have and should have been handled contractually: Insofar as MLB had de facto control of the initial database of stats, it seems like it should've been able to make it available to a third party under some explicit agreement stipulating that the third party's copy had to be destroyed after a year barring some extension. And if that wasn't done, there might be something to the claim that the names and identities of the players can't be commercially exploited without permission—I can't just write and sell a video game called "Derek Jeter Baseball." But the idea that the stats—factual records of what happened at a series of public events—are subject to individual ownership doesn't seem like it can possibly fly.