Fantasy League Owes No Licensing Fee Says Supreme Court

2 June 2008

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from Major League Baseball and its players association, thereby giving a fantasy sports operator the right to use players' data without paying licensing fees.

"Today's Supreme Court decision marks potentially the single biggest day in the history of the fantasy sports industry," Jeffrey R. Thomas, president of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association (FSTA) told Gaming Industry Media.

MLB and its players had argued that fantasy sports operator CBC Distribution and Marketing violated players' rights by using their names and statistics without paying a fee. A St. Louis Court and a federal appeals court both ruled, however, that CBC's Freedom of Speech rights were more important. The Supreme Court rejected the case without comment.

The National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League had supported MLB's efforts in the case.

"Looking at the future," Thomas said, "it has always been the FSTA's goal to find ways to work hand in hand with the leagues and the players associations. Anyone and everyone that analyzes the concept of fantasy sports come to the obvious conclusion that fantasy sports are an extremely valuable marketing vehicle for any sport and its players. Consumers follow teams closely when they play fantasy sports, averaging three to four hours per week managing their teams. They care about players on all teams, including the back-ups from across the country."

The FSTA estimates that more than 19.4 million people in the U.S. and Canada play fantasy sports.

"In marketing terms, this is engagement at its best and we should all be working together to develop more and more quality promotions for baseball, football, basketball, racing, soccer, hockey, golf, tennis, lacrosse, fishing, boxing, rugby, badminton, and any other sport or hobby that would like to see its customers spend more time studying and interacting with their sport," Thomas said.