India Uncut

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Whose stats are they anyway?

Not long ago, when the BCCI tried to get mobile companies to stop sending cricket scores as SMS updates to their users, I had a hearty laugh. Did these chaps actually believe that they owned cricket scores? It seemed evident that once these scores were in the public domain, anyone could use them in any way they wanted. But BCCI believed otherwise. Later, there were murmurs about them trying to get Cricinfo to stop ball-by-ball commentary, which is again a use of information already in the public domain -- most BBB commentary is done off TV anyway.

Well, here's something that should give Lalit Modi, the BCCI's main moneyman, hope: a legal war in the US over baseball scores. The New York Times reports:
The dispute is between a company in St. Louis that operates fantasy sports leagues over the Internet and the Internet arm of Major League Baseball, which says that anyone using players' names and performance statistics to operate a fantasy league commercially must purchase a license. The St. Louis company counters that it does not need a license because the players are public figures whose statistics are in the public domain.
The legal system in the US is relatively modern, but Indian statutes are so primitive that I worry that they may not even be clear on the concepts of 'public domain' and 'intellectual property.' And if MLB wins the US case, that might sway our judges as an international precedent on the issue. The sheer money-power of the BCCI, of course, could be another factor.

Disclosure: I am a consultant with Cricinfo, and will remain so until at least October this year. My views on this issue are entirely personal.
amit varma, 2:43 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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