Friday, June 5, 2009

Yahoo: No 'Kickback' to NFL for Fantasy Stats

Yahoo, Inc. has filed a preemptive suit against the NFL Players Assn. in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota to avoid paying royalties for using players' images and statistics in its lucrative online Fantasy Football game.

In Yahoo, Inc. v. National Football League Players, et al. (09cv-1272), the Santa Clara, Calif.-based Yahoo contends that because the players' stats are already available to the public, it should not have to pay royalties. Any right of publicity claim the NFL players might assert, which Yahoo disputes, would not overcome protection afforded by the First Amendment and U.S. Copyright law, according to Yahoo's lawsuit. A licensing agreement between the NFL and Yahoo expired in March 2009. In staking out this position, Yahoo is relying on a 2007 ruling by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit that held the Major League Baseball Players Assn. and MLB Advanced Media were not entitled to payment from fantasy baseball company CBC Distribution and Marketing, Inc., although CBC admittedly profited from the use of the players' stats in its fantasy league.
Moreover, the NFL is appealing a decision in April 2009, by U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Minnesota Ann Montgomery that held that use by CBS Interactive, Inc., of NFL players' names and statistics was protected by the First Amendment.
Fantasy league players "draft" real players to create their own teams. Judge Montgomery's ruling stated that fantasy football games gross an estimated $1 billion annually from its 13 million to 15 million participants, who might otherwise be dating.

1 comment:

  1. I think this case should be settled out of court. The real NFl players should meet the fantasy league proprietors and give them the beating of their dreams.