Wednesday, June 24, 2015

MLB licensing and the First Amendment

Fans often ask how Baseball Mogul is able to use team names and player names without securing a license with either the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) or Major League Baseball (MLB). As this topic of discussion has come up again over at Steam, I am re-posting the information here.

Under United States law, fantasy sports games and computer games have a right to use team and player names and statistics, protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and no license is required to enjoy this right.

This right was unambiguously upheld in the case of C.B.C. Distribution v. Major League Baseball (United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, 2006).

The judges ruled unanimously "that the First Amendment applies to fantasy baseball games, so that even if the players and teams did have a right of publicity in their names and playing records, game developers and publishers would have a free speech right to use them".

Major League Baseball appealed to the United States Supreme Court, but were denied a writ of certiori, leaving the 8th District Court's ruling as the law of the land.

I am not a lawyer. I just know that we have followed that ruling for the last 9 years, and our own legal counsel strongly affirms that we are well within the law.


Adam Strong-Morse said...

Just to clarify a little: The trial court was the District Court of the Eastern District of Missouri. The appeals court was the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (informally, "the Eighth Circuit"). "Eighth District Court" isn't really the right way to describe any federal court. The Eighth Circuit's decision is the important one (there are lots of district courts, and their rulings aren't binding precedent).

But thanks for writing this--I'd wondered, and this is interesting.

Unknown said...
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Mikel Bleck said...
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