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Can Pro Sports Schedules be Copyrighted? Court Says Yes

Here in the United States, the schedules of sports teams are regularly published in newspapers (remember those?) and on the Internet. Editors and readers presumably see it as public information that is not restricted in any way. Well, that is apparently not the case in England.

In a strange ruling, the British High Court ruled Friday that "fixtures" (which is what the British call a schedule) for soccer matches can be subject to copyright laws. This means news outlets that want to publish them may have to pay to provide their readers with the valuable information. 

One of the judges explained the ruling:

"The process of preparing fixture lists involves very significant labor and skill in satisfying the multitude of often competing requirements of those involved," Judge Christopher Floyd said. "(It is) not mere sweat of the brow, by which I mean the application of rigid criteria to the processing of data.

"The quality of the solution depends in part on the skill of those involved."

It's doubtful any American courts would follow through with a similar ruling. But the way greedy sports leagues and owners operate, you never know if they will press the issue.


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