Who Owns Player Names and Statistics?
by Pamela Chestek • September 10, 2008 • right of publicity
The NFL Players Association, through National Football League Players Inc., is a nonexclusive licensing entity for NFL players’ rights of publicity. CBS Interactive, which runs the web site CBSSports.com, did not believe that it needed a license to use player names and statistics for its fantasy football site, but, according to CBS Interactive, the NFLPA disagrees. CBS Interactive claims that the NFLPA has threatened suit if CBS Interactive uses the names and statistics without a license. CBS Interactive, unsurprising, believes that it doesn’t need a license after the Major League Baseball Players Association lost the same battle a year ago, in C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, Inc. v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media, L.P. CBS Interactive filed a declaratory judgment action in Minneapolis, claiming a First Amendment defense to any right of publicity claim, that a right of publicity claim is preempted by the Copyright Act, the absence of any misappropriation of the players’ rights of publicity, and an attempted monopolization claim under section 2 of the Sherman Act. Complaint available here. It will be interesting to see why the NFLPA believes CBC Distribution & Marketing can be distinguished.
© 2008 Pamela Chestek