SI.COM: “Judge: Statistics not intellectual property of MLB
The decision is up on Pacer:
C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, Inc. v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media, LP, Case no. 4:05CV00252MLM (E.D. MO August 8, 2006).
Quick summary: C.B.C. organized fantasy baseball leagues, a ‘paper’ (or online) game where users compiled their own teams consisting of major league players and competed using those players’ ‘real’ statistics. MLB alleged infringement of those players’ rights of publicity.
Held: C.B.C. use of the players’ names in conjunction with their public domain statistics (as opposed to if they had used the names in conjunction with the players’ likenesses), does not constitute use of the name as a symbol of identity and therefore is not an infringement of the players’ rights of publicity.
As a policy aside, it was noted that use of a player’s statistics in fantasy baseball is likely to enhance a player’s popularity, and thus does not contradict the policy goal of the right of publicity (Ed. note: ugh).
Additionally, C.B.C. has a protectable First Amendment interest in the use of the statistics.
Background here.