The Freedom to Imagine Fantasy Sports: Applying New Ideas in Copyright Law to Professional Athletes' Right of Publicity
Ryan T. Holte
Southern Illinois University School of Law
June 1, 2007
Journal of the Copyright Society of the USA, Vol. 54, No. 4, 2007
The creation and growth of online fantasy sports games has resulted in an interesting struggle between the First Amendment rights of sports fans and sports players' right of publicity. Fantasy sports websites state that they have a constitutional right to use players' names in their online programs which allow customers to build their own fantasy teams. Professional sports leagues argue that they, and the players, have spent great time and money in building the names and public images of professional athletes, and deserve to be compensated through state right of publicity laws. Currently courts are left with choosing between these two extremes - either allow fantasy sports websites to freely use the names and statistics of the players, or force them to pay for licenses at whatever cost the sports leagues set. This article examines previously proposed methods of dealing with copyright laws, and how these ideas can be applied to the conflicting rights surrounding fantasy sports. It attempts to find a middle ground where fantasy sports websites cannot be barred from using players' names, but players are still allowed to be justly compensated for the effort and expense that goes into making their names famous.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
Keywords: Copyright, Sports, Fantasy Sports, Right of Publicity
JEL Classification: K11
Date posted: January 31, 2009 ; Last revised: February 3, 2009
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