April, 2009

Fantasy Leaders React to Good News

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

With the CBS Interactive lawsuit against the NFLPA on its way to being finalized in favor of the fantasy sports industry, some significant voices are sharing their pleasure over this week’s rulings.

“This victory further cements the autonomy of fantasy sports operators from sports leagues and player unions,” new Fantasy Sports Trade Association president Paul Charchian (more on that to come) said in the FSTA’s release on the suit. “Fantasy sports provide significant advantages to the leagues and players unions, creating a wide variety of tangible and intangible benefits. As has always been the case, the FSTA welcomes the opportunity to work with each of the leagues and their players’ associations.”

Lawyer Glenn Colton, who assisted the FSTA in the CBC lawsuit against Major League Baseball called it “yet another victory for fantasy sports players and businesses, and most importantly for all of our First Amendment freedoms.

“The decision is yet another brick in the wall that will insure that the millions of fantasy sports players continue to be able to enjoy the game and the innovations and improvements that come with freedom to operate and invent without fear of players associations swooping in at the 11th hour and wresting control of the benefits of those inventions and innovations.”

Obviously, CBS is also happy with the judgment handed down this week.

“CBS is pleased that the court confirmed the use of player names, statistics and other materials in CBS’s online fantasy games is protected under the First Amendment,” CBSSports.com senior vice president and general manager Jason Kint told FSB.com in a statement. “CBSSports.com, along with the rest of the fantasy sports industry, looks forward to continuing to provide the fun and excitement of fantasy sports.”

More, no doubt, will come as the news of this ruling spreads around the industry. Stay tuned to FSB.com.


NFLPA’s Gripe with Fantasy Could Be About Done

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Tuesday’s rulings in the CBS Interactive lawsuit against the NFL Players Association were even better news than we here at FSB.com realized.

After gathering more information on the proceedings and talking to some people smarter than we are, it has become clear that the NFLPA is very near the same result that Major League Baseball and its players association found in challenging fantasy companies previously.

The key part is that in granting CBS’ motion for summary judgment, the U.S. district court judge presiding over the suit in Minnesota ruled in the plaintiff’s favor — including a declaration that use of player statistics, news and headshots for fantasy games is protected by the First Amendment.

The NFLPA has 30 days from the date of the ruling to appeal the case and seems like it probably will. After all, this is pretty much the last chance for the league and players association limit access for fantasy game providers. If the ruling stands, the NFLPA — like MLB before it — won’t be allowed to take any other fantasy entities to court anywhere in the country over the same issues.

Of course, if the appeal is filed, it will head to the same Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals that ruled in favor of CBC in the baseball case. It’s tough to imagine the court going against its own previous ruling.

If baseball and football are both blocked in attempts to extract payments for access to player statistics, names and licenses, other sports would seem unlikely to mount similar challenges. They would certainly be allowed to, but the size of the fantasy markets in baseball and football put a lot more money on the line in licensing disputes. Would it be worth the lawyer fees for NASCAR or PGA to take fantasy providers to court? Probably not.

One also has to wonder whether such a challenge would be worth any potential public relations fallout that could accompany. With a smaller fan base than MLB or the NFL enjoy, the NHL — for instance — would feel the effects more of alienating any portion of its followers.

So, fantasy folks, although we’re not officially at an endpoint in the fight between sports leagues and game providers, we certainly appear to be closing in on the unofficial finish line.


Good News for Fantasy: CBS Starts Strong Against NFLPA

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

Last spring, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Major League Baseball Advanced Media and MLB Players Association, effectively ending baseball’s case against fantasy providers (led by CBC in that lawsuit).

Three months after the High Court’s ruling, CBS Interactive sued the NFL Players Association to halt another attempt to extract money from fantasy sports providers for stats and other player info that resides in the public domain.

Well, the first set of rulings have been handed down in the CBS v. NFLPA case, and the procedure sure seems to be favoring the fantasy community. According to the court dockets, here’s what has come so far …

1. The NFLPA’s motion to dismiss the suit for “lack of personal jurisdiction” was denied.

2. The NFLPA’s motion to dismiss on grounds of “failure to state a claim” was granted, while that on grounds of “failure to join an indispensable party” was denied.

3. The NFLPA’s motions to change the venue (away from the Eighth Circuit) were denied.

4. “Count IV of the First Amended Complaint is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.”

5. CBS’ “motion for partial summary judgment” was granted.

6. “Counts II and III of the First Amended Complaint are DISMISSED as moot.”

Now, we’re not lawyers here at FSB.com, but we do know some. We’ll continue to gather information and analysis on the rulings so far and share our results with you.


There It is Again

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Anyone who checks out Page 10C of their Monday USA Today will see an ad for that new fantasy game.

“Fantasy Football Unleashed,” the ad says, offering a site at which you can get a free play of RapidDraft. The ad still doesn’t get too specific on the game itself, though.

When will we find out? The ship launches May 1.

How annoying is it to have some dude pretend he doesn’t know more than he’s saying? You tell me.