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Property rights in sport media 09
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Property rights in sport media 09


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Presentation at the Fourth Summit on Communication and Sport, March 18-20, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Presentation at the Fourth Summit on Communication and Sport, March 18-20, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.

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  • Quote attributable to Andy Heyward, former CEO of CBSMike Slaby, chief technology strategist, Tomorrow Ventures; former chief technology officer, Obama for AmericaAdvances corporate reputationsThey have means to create and distribute their own content through the channels they chooseDon’t have to be everywhere. Know the culture and subcultures within each social media network and recognize it is not necessary to be in every conversation – just the ones where you can add valueDon’t forget the “social”. Approach each social media space like a real relationship and be ready to do the hard work that goes into any good relationship.Put out own point of view and draw people into the conversationBe willing to give up control
  • Social media can be used to strengthen an organization's brand and enhance relationships with the organization's publics (e.g., Dittmore, Stoldt, & Greenwell, 2008; Scoble & Israel, 2006; Solis & Breakenridge, 2009)BlogsMicrobloggingBookmarkingVideoPhotoAudioSocial Networking
  • IOC “Athletes are free to blog during the Games,” says Condron. “And Twitter is just a blog that’s written 140 characters at a time.”There are some restrictions on what athletes can do online during the Olympics. According to the IOC Blogging Guidelines for the 2010 Games, athletes and other accredited people must keep their posts confined to their personal experiences. “You can’t act as a journalist if you aren’t,” says Condron. “You need to do things in a first person way.”The rules are still pretty strict, of course. Some of the rules are obvious—no advertising, no exclusivity, no using the word "Olympic" in your website's name.  But also verboten are the use of any sound or video of the Games, and photos are only acceptable where the athlete is pictured and not involved in any "sporting action" or official ceremonies, including medal presentations.  And athletes can't use the Olympic symbol on their blogs. (This strikes me as problematic in combination with the photos rule.  Does the athlete need to photoshop out any logos present before they post a photo?)Nieman Journalism Lab at HarvardConducted a four-part series in summer 2009, “Shifting media power in sports”Concluded “no consistent winner in the turf wars between sports leagues and news organizations” (Rice, June 30, 2009)Are the terms of media rights contracts being violated?Are influential publics being alienated?
  • “No Bearer may produce or disseminate in any form a “real-time” description or transmission of the Event (i) for commercial or business use, or (ii) in any manner that constitutes, or is intended to provide or is promoted or marketed as, a substitute for radio, television or video coverage of such Event. Personal messages and updates of scores or other brief descriptions of the competition throughout the Event are acceptable. If the SEC deems that a Bearer is producing a commercial or real-time description of the Event, the SEC reserves the right to pursue all available remedies against the Bearer.Absent the prior written permission of the Southeastern Conference, game action videos of the Event may not be taken by Bearer. Photos of the Event may be taken by Bearer and distributed solely for personal use (and such photographs shall not be licensed, used, or sold commercially, or used for any commercial or business purpose).”
  • Copyright Act of 1976Extended copyright protection to live sports broadcastsMust be an original work of authorship (described in 102 of the Act)Sports meets this threshold because each game is a unique script, result is unknown, commentary and camera angles represent an original interpretation (Garmire, n.d.)For a work to receive copyright protection under the 1976 Act, it must be an original work of authorship.  The threshold requirement of originality is relatively easy one for a work to meet.  A work must simply contain a minimal degree of creativity in order to meet the statutory standard.  “Originality means only that the work was independently created by the author and that it possesses at least some minimal degree of creativity.  To be sure, the requisite level of creativity is extremely low.”[24]  The broadcast of NFL games and other sporting events are original because each week a unique script of individual plays is shown to the audience.  The result of each play is unknown to anyone until its conclusion, and the effect of the broadcast is to provide the audience member at the end of the day with a full and unique presentation of a sporting event.  Teams and players change each week providing a new scenario and storyboard. Furthermore, the commentary and the different camera angles provide an original interpretation of the events, lending credence to the view that the work is highly creative in nature.  For those reasons, it is more likely than not that live sports broadcasts are original in nature.
  • Explain the sample procedures verbally on this slide
  • Talk through the sample social media restrictions
  • Some concern regarding how such policies would be monitored for compliance
  • Transcript

    • 1. Property rights in the age of digital media: Exploring the legal and practical impacts of restricting sport content usage
      Stephen W. Dittmore, PhD, University of Arkansas
      Craig M. Crow, M.S., West Liberty University
      Tiffany E. Fields, 1L & M.A., University of Arkansas
    • 2. “Every company is a media company”
      Companies no longer have to filter content and messages through the media - Mike Slaby, former Chief Technology Officer, Obama for America, speaking at New Media Academic Summit, June 10, 2009 in Washington, D.C.
      Social media is “about people coming together in community spaces, both online and off, to participate in creating , managing and sharing content through conversation” - Lauren Beyer, Social Media & Fan Outreach Coordinator,
    • 3. Social media importance to sport organizations
      According to a study of 2,304 readers of the Sports Business Journal, the growth of social media was the 2nd most important sports business story of 2009, after the economic recession’s impact on corporate spending (Sports Business Journal, Nov. 30, 2009, p. 19)
      As with most industries, it has become increasingly important for organizations to develop policies which address social media
    • 4. Study Purpose
      Purpose of the study was to explore the legal and practical implications of social media restrictions for sport organizations
      An overview of the issues and restrictions currently in place from sport organizations and a summary of relevant case law which may be used to guide decision-making
      Exploration of what types of benefits sport organizations may receive from relaxing restrictions on social media and content usage
    • 5. Sport organization-social media issues
      NCAA removes credentialed journalist for blogging in 2008
      IOC blogging guidelines for athletes for 2008 and 2010 Olympic Games
      NFL policy introduced for 2009 season
      Illustration from
      Photo by drowcliffe, Flickr. Used under creative commons license.
    • 6. Southeastern Conference Policy
      Initial policy stated fans may not: “produce or disseminate … any account, description, picture, video, audio, reproduction or other information concerning the Event.” (Ostrow, Aug. 17, 2009, on Mashable)
      Revised policy conceded: “personal messages and updates of scores or other brief descriptions of the competition throughout the Event are acceptable” (Ostrow, Aug. 18, 2009, on Mashable)
      Photo by swim.mir, Flickr. Used under creative commons license.
    • 7. NBA v. Motorola (1997)
      Motorola’s transmission to its pagers of “real-time” NBA game scores and information from observers monitoring live television and radio broadcasts of NBA games did not violate league rights
      Games themselves are not copyrightable and Motorola’s service did not violate copyright in the broadcasts of the games
      “Although the broadcasts are protected under copyright law, the district court correctly held that Motorola and STATS did not infringe NBA’s copyright because they reproduced only facts from the broadcasts, not the expression or description of the game that constitutes the broadcast” (105 F.3d at 847)
    • 8. Morris Communications, Inc. v. PGA Tour (2004)
      Courts held PGA had a legitimate business reason for requiring media entities to license – for a fee – information from its real-time scoring system, and did not violate antitrust law
      “Morris demands that it be given access to the product of PGA's proprietary RTSS [Real-Time Scoring System], without compensating PGA, so that Morris can then sell that product to others for a fee. That is the classic example of "free-riding," the prevention of which, under antitrust law, constitutes a legitimate pro-competitive reason for imposing a restriction.” (364 F.3d at 1298)
    • 9. Fallout from previous cases
      “Once the promoter can profit sufficiently from expanding the effort and resources to produce, market, and sell its sports entertainment product, there appears to be no public benefit from allowing the promoter to use the legal system offensively to reap competitive profits by restricting the flow of information the public wants”
      Roberts (2004, p. 187) conclusion in Stanford Law & Policy Review article, “The scope of the exclusive right to control dissemination of real-time sports event information”
    • 10. Method
      Two-part request questionnaire submitted to media relations unit in varied sport organizations
      Social Media Policy
      Policy regarding fans use of social networking media at events?
      Policy regarding media member use of social networking media at events?
      Aware of relevant case law?
    • 11. Sample Responses – Fan Policy
      FBS conference = “During regular season contests, the policies [are] decided by the individual institutions. During [redacted] Conference Championship events, fans are allowed to use social networks. The only restrictions are no selling of photos, no video recording of events”
      NFL team = “We have no specific rules in place because many of those policies have been set forth by the National Football League.”
      MLS team = “Our fans are encouraged to share their experiences on social platforms.”
      FBS institution = “We have none for fans... how can you police what they do on their cell phones? Why would we want to?”
    • 12. Sample Responses – Media Policy
      NASCAR venue = “It is very welcomed. NASCAR sets certain rules as to what video can be broadcast online, but as a NASCAR venue we're happy that the media is using social media to promote our events.”
      NFL team = “In terms of our own events that we can control (practices, etc.), we are among the more open teams, but there is no live reporting during practice.”
      FBS institution = “Media may not provide continuous live streaming accounts or pictures.”
      FBS institution = “Depends on the event and if it crosses the line into play-by-play, which violates our media rights agreement for exclustivity [sic] with our rights holders.”
    • 13. Conclusions – Legal Issues
      Facts from sporting events are available in the public domain, and not protected under the Copyright Act of 1976
      Sport media relations professionals are not aware of any case law that may guide future policy development
      Illustration credit: Robin Good.
    • 14. Conclusions – Fan Policies
      Sport organizations do not currently have a desire, nor the perceived need, to introduce policies regarding the use of social media by fans in attendance
      Organizations are likely to not enforce such policies beyond those dictated by their central governing bodies or media contracts
      Photo credit:
    • 15. Conclusions – Media Policies
      Protecting the interests of rights holders will be a focal point in future discussions
      Organizations appreciate the exposure generated from fans and media discussing events via social media platforms
      Photo credit: Jeff Pearlman
    • 16. Thank you…