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4098Re: [baseball-databank] Re: Digest Number 1186

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  • Theodore Turocy
    Apr 10, 2011
      On 10 Apr 2011, at 15:11 , wyerscj wrote:

      > F.X.,
      > Nothing that's being discussed here is intellectual property. See STATS, Inc. vs NBA and CDM vs. MLBAM. Baseball statistics are records of fact and no more copyrightable than the phone book.

      With respect, and at the risk of taking this discussion further afield, "pontifexexmachina" is probably more guilty of misrepresenting the issue here.

      The phone book absolutely *is* copyrightable, if by "phone book" you refer to a particular, specific arrangement and formatting of names and phone numbers. You can't simply take a phone book, slap your own name on the cover instead of the original author, and sell the same item. What isn't copyrightable are the *facts* within the phone book. So, a phone book publisher cannot bring suit against someone else solely because the same names and phone numbers appear in someone else's version of the phone book.

      The case precedents cited above only establish that NBA, MLBAM, and the like cannot stop someone else from reporting the facts about the public exhibitions that are sporting events, in much the same way that a phone book publisher cannot stop someone else from also reporting phone numbers.

      Copyright protection does cover specific arrangements and compilations of facts as a whole, however. Again, one can't simply take an existing baseball encyclopedia, put a new cover with their own name on it, and sell it as their own work.

      If someone creates a dataset which is a specific arrangement of facts based on their own work, they most certainly do have "intellectual property." It is up to the creator how that particular resource can and can't be used. They may keep it for themselves; they may share and trade access to it; or, they may release it under a liberal license to the world. But it is up to the creator to make that decision. And, the fact is, the majority of the data that most people would be interested in comes ultimately from the work of 24/7 Baseball, and it is up to them to decide if, when, and how their particular work will be used.

      The fact that facts aren't copyrightable, in this case, simply means that 24/7 Baseball, or anyone else, can't stop something like baseball-databank from existing and carrying out its own version of compiling facts about baseball.

      Editorializing now solely for myself, it is my hope that the day will come when the "gold standard" data is available under a liberal Creative Commons-type license, and my hope that the day will come sooner or later. However, everyone really needs to remember that the Open Source and Open Data movements are based on *respect* for the principles of copyright - and I assert it's been the careful respect of intellectual property which has made these movements credible and wildly successful.

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