are sports stats public information?

Is the information in a boxscore public information? Could I basically look up the sports statistics from espn or sports illustrated or usatoday or whatever and put that on my website?

Usual warning – I Am Not A Lawyer – this is only my opinion.

No, the stats belong to whoever compiled and published them. You don’t have any more (or less) right to take them and post them than you would to take the web site’s story about the game and post that on your website.

Repeat the following phrase, with emphasis on the word “any.”


Facts are not copyrightable. Expression of facts is.

As long as you take the basic facts, i.e. statistics, and post them in an original and unique way, you’re in the clear. If you just copy stats directly off another source you’re in violation of copyright.

I agree. You cannot copyright the fact that a batter had 3 hits in a game.

Baseball statistics are a matter of historical fact. I could, for instance, tell you that Mike Schmidt hit 548 home runs and drove in 1595 runs. I could point out that in 1980, he hit 48 home runs and drove in 121 runs. Those are statistics I got off copyrighted materials, but it’s not copyright violation to cite fact.

To use an example from another sort of publication, I could inform you that the British offensive at the Somme killed some 50,000 British soldiers. That’s a fact. I am not violating copyright just because I happened to read it in Keegan’s “The First World War,” a copyrighted work.

However, if I were to copy the web page from detailing Mike Schmidt’s career stats, and then post that page somewhere else or print it and use it in my book, or copy the chapter from Keegan describing the Somme offensive, THEN I would be violating copyright.

Again, not a lawyer here, but I have seen this recently.

First of all, be careful how you phrase things. Team names are copyrighted. You can say New York beat Detroit, but you can’t say the Yankees beat the Tigers.

Also, I think the MLB recently shutdown a company who tried to offer sports scores via pager to subscribers. The argument was that the company in question was re-distributing results of games without license to do so (and without paying a fee of any sort). MLB won the case, but it may simply have been because the little upstart guys couldn’t afford to fight it properly.

Team names can’t be copyrighted, but they might be trademarked. Even then, I don’t think that stops a person from using the team name to refer to the team. It would, however, stop a person from organizing a pro baseball team and calling them the Yankees.

I mean, if you’re not allowed to use the team name to refer to the team, then what’s the point of having a team name at all?

This is wrong on several levels. Not only are team names not copyrightable, but even if they were trademarked anybody and everybody would be able to refer to them with no legal penalties whatsoever. The names of all companies and products are trademarked, Does anybody ever stop you from saying IBM or Chevy or Coke?

IIRC, the pager case was decided on the issue that the games were essentially being rebroadcast in real time - i.e. while the games were still under way - in violation of MLB’s exclusive rights to do so. There have been a raft of such cases in recent years.