SBD/31/Leagues Governing Bodies

COURT RULES MOTOROLA, STATS, INC. CAN OFFER LIVE NBA SCORES

          A federal appeals court ruled that Motorola and Stats,
     Inc. can transmit real-time NBA game scores and statistics
     taken from radio and TV broadcasts, according to Michael
     Rapoport of the WALL STREET JOURNAL.  The 3-0 ruling
     reversed a lower court ruling "which had enjoined" Motorola
     and Stats, Inc. from disseminating information over pager
     systems called Sportstrax and other online services.  NBA
     Legal Counsel Jeffrey Mishkin said the league plans to
     appeal the ruling (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/31).
          HOT TEST: The appeals court ruled that the NBA had not
     met "a narrowly tailored 'hot news' test for prevailing on
     such a misappropriation claim."  The court ruled that
     neither Motorola nor Stats were "free-riding" on the NBA's
     information.  The court also ruled that while "broadcasts of
     athletic events are protected by copyright, the events
     themselves aren't because they aren't 'original works of
     authorship' under the law."  The outcome isn't know in
     advance and "wholly unexpected events may influence it." 
     The court said the ruling "applies equally" to an AOL site
     featuring information provided by Stats.  Stats attorney
     Andrew Deutsch said he expects a separate NBA suit against
     AOL and Stats to be dropped (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/31).  In
     N.Y., Lawrie Mifflin writes that the ruling "reiterated that
     the facts and scores of a basketball game were facts, and
     that under Federal copyright law, facts could not be
     copyrighted."  In her ruling for the NBA, lower court Judge
     Loretta Preska noted the league's commercial property rights
     were being taken without compensation.  But the appeals
     court ruled that the NBA claim "confuses three different
     products:" the games, radio and TV broadcasts of those
     games, and retransmission of "strictly factual information"
     about those games.  The opinion said: "The first and second
     products are the N.B.A.'s primary business ... [but] there
     is no evidence that anyone regards Sportstrax or the AOL
     site as a substitute for attending N.B.A. games or watching
     them on television" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/31).
          REAX: On "Moneyline," CNN's Lou Dobbs called the ruling
     a "big legal victory" for Motorola.  Dobbs noted the court
     "said the NBA failed to prove that it was harmed by the
     transmission of those scores."  Dobbs added that the ruling
     could also be a "boon" to AOL ("Moneyline," CNN, 1/30). 
     Motorola Attorney Herbert Schwartz: "It's also an important
     result for online providers and for the Internet because it
     also allows people like America Online to give updated
     scores in real time as the game goes on. ... It's important
     for the new media in terms of their ability to transmit
     facts promptly once those facts have been made public over
     TV or radio" ("Market Wrap," CNBC, 1/30).  ESPN's Bob Ley
     noted the ruling was a "loss" for the NBA ("SportsCenter,"
     ESPN, 1/30).  In Chicago, Howard Wolinsky notes Stats and
     Motorola "scored big" with the ruling.  As for Sportstrax,
     Motorola attorney Roger Dusberger said, "Sportstrax is a
     great product with a lot of pent-up demand.  But Motorola
     management will need to re-evaluate whether and how to move
     forward with the product" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 1/31).

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