A precedent from the USA: NBA vs Motorola

In 1996, the National Basketball Association filed a case in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit against Motorola inc., claiming Motorola infringed on NBA’s copyright of the broadcast of the game by providing live updates on the SportsTrax pager. The court ruling did not favor the NBA.

The Second Circuit appellate court struck down the NBA’s assertion that the games are copyrighted. “Sports events are not ‘authored’ in any common sense of the word”(21), arguing that if copyright was open to sporting events, “the inventor of the T-formation in football” would be able to control all uses of the T-formation and could cause problems with the prosperity of the sport.

The ruling further said that

Motorola and STATS did not infringe NBA’s copyright because only facts from the broadcasts, not the broadcasts themselves were transmitted. The Second Circuit Court agreed with the district court’s argument that the “[d]efendants provide purely factual information which any patron of an NBA game could acquire from the arena without any involvement from the director, cameramen, or others who contribute to the originality of the broadcast”

More details are available here


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