Gamecasts and NBA v. Motorola: Do They Still Love This Game?

June 16, 2012

For an avid sports fan, it is sometimes challenging to watch every important game while simultaneously keeping other commitments. Consider a law student who must choose between being prepared for class the following day and watching his or her favorite team. Listening to Dick Vitale rant and rave about the next “diaper dandy” while trying to learn the Rule Against Perpetuities is not easy. Fortunately, gamecasts now make it possible for a sports fan that is too busy to watch a game to keep up with sports action. For example, a law student can make the responsible decision to go to the library to study but will also be able to check the status of games via online gamecasts.
A gamecast is a real-time description of a sporting event broadcast over the Internet. An employee or law student may not have access to a television or radio in the office or law library, but most likely can get to a computer and, therefore, can access online gamecasts. There are gamecasts for all of the major sports, and gamecasts are available on a host of commercial websites. Thus, gamecasts are a viable option for keeping up with sports action.
Gamecasting is a relatively new means of communicating information and, as such, there are several unanswered legal questions associated with gamecasts. This Comment explores some of those questions. Part I discusses Major League Baseball’s recent assertion that gamecasts are protectable as exhibitions of games. Part II looks at the relevant case law, specifically a case involving the National Basketball Association (“NBA”) and pagers that delivered real-time information about ongoing games. Part III attempts to extrapolate how a case involving gamecasts might be resolved under the analysis from the NBA case. Part IV suggests a solution to the legal confusion surrounding gamecasts.