Baseball Won't Give You Permission to Talk About It

Fan calls league's bluff on legal disclaimer
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2009 11:25 AM CDT
Houston Astros' Kazuo Matsui sprays his bat in the eighth inning of a game against the Arizona Diamonsbacks.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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(Newser) – If you’ve ever watched baseball, you’ve probably heard the stern warning that “Any rebroadcast, retransmission, or account of this game, without the express written consent of Major League Baseball, is prohibited.” Well, Phil Villarreal of the Consumerist wanted to tell his buddy about a recent Diamondbacks-Astros game, so he wrote MLB hoping to get some express written permission. An MLB executive asked him to call her.

“How could anyone stop you from talking about the game in your own living room?” she asked, incredulous. He noted that the disclaimer forbids any “account,” and she promised to get back to him. She still hasn’t, so Villarreal has kept his buddy in the dark. But, if you’re wondering, he needn’t have. Baseball has no right to restrict accounts of the game, notes Michael Masnick of Tech Dirt, calling the claim “copyfraud.” The joke highlights a real problem: "Copyright holders are pretty regularly claiming significantly more rights than they actually hold over content."