June 3rd, 2009

Yahoo! Says Series of Contacts Preceded Filing

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

According to the Yahoo! filing in U.S. District Court in Minnesota on Monday, the company tried to resolve or clarify its issue with the NFL Players Association in the two weeks before taking the fight to court.

Here is the timeline as it appears in the court papers (with events paraphrased) …

May 21 - Yahoo! spoke with NFLPA representatives about its assertion that licensing agreements would no longer be necessary for use of player stats and other information, in light of the recent ruling in CBS v. NFLPA.

May 26 — Yahoo! contacted the NFLPA again and asked for written confirmation of the association’s position on whether a licensing agreement would be required. The NFLPA declined.

May 28 — The NFLPA appealed the CBS ruling.

May 29 — Yahoo! wrote to the NFLPA to address the lack of written confirmation of the NFLPA’s position, in light of the CBS appeal. Yahoo! asked for a “simple representation” by June 1 that the NFLPA wouldn’t sue the company for operating its fantasy football game without a new licensing agreement. The NFLPA refused to meet that deadline and instead sought to plan a discussion for later in the week.

June 1 — Yahoo! filed suit.


Yahoo! Sues NFLPA

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Maybe this one will finally put the issue to rest.

Just a little more than a month after the U.S. district court in Minnesota ruled in CBS’ favor against the NFL Players Association over use player stats and likenesses in fantasy games, Yahoo has filed a similar suit in the same district.

In its filing, Yahoo! Alleges that NFL Players (the business arm of the players association) has threatened to sue the company if it uses player stats and “related information” in its fantasy contests without paying proper royalties fees.

The two sides had been engaged in licensing agreements before this year, but the last such deal expired on March 1, according to the Yahoo! filing. As a result of the April ruling in the CBS case, Yahoo! believes it should no longer be subject to such royalties.

Specifically, the filing includes three counts on which Yahoo! seeks judgment:

I. Declaratory judgment that Yahoo does not violate any right of publicity owned or controlled by NFL Players.

II. Declaratory judgment that a right of publicity interpreted broadly enough to encompass Yahoo’s actions is superseded by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

III. Declaratory judgment that a right of publicity interpreted broadly enough to encompass Yahoo’s actions are preempted by federal copyright law.

What this all boils down to is that the company wants an official ruling that it can run its fantasy football games just as it always has this season but without a licensing agreement and without getting sued.

The players association — which filed an appeal in the CBS case late last week — seems likely to keep fighting but could be running out of juice.

FSB.com will surely have more on this topic over the coming weeks and months.

Related posts


FSB Daily 6/3: Athlon, FootballHangout.com, Trading Etiquette

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

A roundup of recent posts on the FSB News page:

- Athlon has “officially” kicked off it’s 2009 college football coverage, including the first year of its incorporation of U-Sports.

- Brian Moore, owner of FootballHangout.com is looking to sell his site.

- RotoWire’s Chris Liss presents the rules for proper etiquette in the fantasy trade market: (1) Make an offer. Don’t ask, “What do you want for … ?” (2) Respond in a timely fashion to reasonable offers. (3) Don’t try to rob the other owner. (4) Try to skip the snark when responding to ridiculous offers. (5) After a successful deal, bit your trading partner good luck. (I don’t know about you, but I and my leaguemates aren’t nearly this courteous.)

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