A recent NYT article about sports blogging raises all sorts of questions relevant to our course. It seems that major sports franchises do not like having photos and video of their games posted online without seeing some money in return. As a result, major league baseball and the NFL have imposed specific limits on the amount of game images a given site can post in the name of news coverage. News outlets, bloggers and other fans of the First Amendment are understandably irked.
While the internet, and its capacity for easy video and photo publication, have created this conflict, it seems to me that the central legal issue predates the “web difference”: Are professional sports matches either (1) news events that reporters should be free to photograph, record and write about as much as they want, or (2) proprietary works “owned” by the league, which a reporter can’t justify recording and posting online any more than he could a live musical. The answer, of course, probably lies somewhere in between.
Either way, I think the leagues are approaching the issue in a terribly short-sighted way. Seems to me that any damage done to their bottom line by losing eyeballs to blogs and news outlets is dramatically outweighed by the positives that come with media attention. By exercising too tight a grip on coverage of their games, the leagues risk alienating the media, and ultimately their fans.