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Sports Results (IP law)

 
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bowser
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:01 am    Post subject: Sports Results (IP law) Reply with quote

Hi,

I'm after some advice on sports results and intellectual property. I have for the last few years been recording the results & lineups of my favourite sports team. This was originally done just for my personal benefit. About 2 years ago I published the data on my website. Since then I've been trying to add to the database and complete the full results history. I've got a long way into this now. Yesterday I received a message saying that one of the sites (I use many sources to cross check data where I can) I visit to research the results is thinking of doing something with regard their intellectual property rights.

So my question is can sports results (as factually correct as I can find) be intellectual property? I've been reading up on UK copyright law and it's slightly confusing. I'm not sure if I'm covered under 'fair use' I also found an article which is relevant but I'm not sure really if it helps or hinders me?

I can't post a link so I can PM the link to anyone who replies and wants to read it.

Some additional info:

My website is non-profit. It does have Google ads but the traffic is so low I've generated $4 in 2 years.

As far as I know the owner of the website which believes I'm infringing is not a business but a personal site as well.

Thanks for reading.
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bowser,
Facts cannot be subject to copyright. They effectively belong to us all. The problem lies in the interface which sometimes lies between us and the those facts: the databases or websites.
There have been a number of court cases involving football results and horse racing results in particular, and the main problem these highlight is that if someone else has spent a good deal of money and skill (referred to as 'substantial investment' in the law) in obtaining, selecting, verifying and presenting the results and putting the end product into a database, it can be infringement of the database right to extract and use the data.
So in order to carry on with what you want to do, you need to know how the law treats database rights. There is very little from pure copyright law (ie concerning literary works etc) which impinges on what you want to do providing you stick to factual information, so understanding fair dealing (fair use is the US concept and differs from UK law) is probably less necessary.
In 1996 the EU put out a Directive (EU 96/9) (explained more simply here: Wikpedia) aimed at harmonising database right across the member states, and there have been a number of cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union which have sought to clarify that directive. However as this is a relatively new area of intellectual property law, things are still settling down. You can read about how the Directive was translated into UK law here: SI 1997/3032
In order to keep this posting from getting too big (and because I'm feeling lazy!) take a look at this article on a recent case about database rights which is closely related to your question: Out-Law.com You will find a lot of links to other similar cases on that site if you click on the 'database rights' tag in blue beside the word Topics.

And just to clarify, running a website which contains Google ads, and so generates some (however small) income, would probably count as commercial exploitation, and would not be seen as private study or research.
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bowser
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,

Thanks for the reply. I read the outlaw article and it confused me slightly. The judge said:

"Accordingly, even if every goal included in the data extracted by a punter was derived from the [Football Dataco, the football bodies and PA] database (which is not by any means established), I would hold that the data so extracted would not be sufficient to amount to a substantial part," the judge said.

Which seems to indicate if goal scorers are exempt but.. it also goes on to say that anything above that will infringe.

So that seems to lay down a marker and in essence... I can't re-establish the site if I used more than goal scorers data.

However... If I've sourced from multiple sources how on earth could anyone establish where the data is from. I myself have no idea where every element has come from. As there have been multiple sources. I hold more data about each result than the site which is kicking up a fuss so I can sort of prove multiple sources.

Regarding the interface between the data. Visually my site is vastly different although there is a only really one way to present a score. However does interface actually mean the structure of the database?

This is a civil law issue what options does it leave me? And what are potential punishments?

It's all so complicated and wooly. I'm really rather stuck.
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's fair to say that in that particular case, Mr Justice Floyd looked at the totality of data in the Football Dataco database and how it had got there, and drew his conclusion that taking the scorer details did not amount to a substantial part. (see the afternote below)
It is worth stressing here that this is where database right differs from copyright. With copyright substantial is measured in terms of the original work itself and most often tends to done on qualitative grounds; with database right substantial is determined in relation to the amount of investment (in time and money etc) that went into selecting and presenting the information in the database, as well as in terms of quantity or quality of it. In reality where the actual data is generally of equal or no value per se (because it is composed of facts) then it is more likely that a quantitative assessment will apply.
The only direct read-across would be that if you also took only the scorer details from that particular site (Football Dataco) and nothing else, you would probably be safe.
Since you appear to obtain your data from a number of sources, that reduces the chances of you infringing any one source. As you say, since the data you use should be the same (as they are facts) whatever source you use, it makes it hard for anyone to pinpoint their site as your only source. Clearly if you re-use some data which is only available on one specific site, it is reasonable to conclude that it was the source you used, unless you are able to show you got the data from somewhere else. You should be aware that some sites use deliberately falsified data (seeded data) in small quantities as a means of tracking database raiding. If you come across something which looks wrong, say compared to what other sites have recorded, this may be the reason.
As long as your layout and presentation is entirely your own work (or the work of someone such as a web designer whom you commissioned) then there should be no problems about your site appearing to infringe the copyright of another site. Generally the law accepts that if there is a very limited number of waya of expressing or representing something, it will be easier to show that what has occurred is independent creation, or alternatively that the original work lacked any creative originality in that area to start with.
From what you have said, it is not likely that you would ever face criminal proceedings, as there needs to a large scale abuse of copyright (such as flooding the market with fake DVD copies of Hollywood films) for that to happen. If you are unlucky enough to be accused of infringement, it is likely to be a civil matter and generally speaking the remedies available, assuming the claimant is successful, are not intended as punishments, merely to restore to the rights owner what he claims he has lost because of your activities.
I hope this clarifies things a bit.

Afternote. It occurs to me that you might find it clearer to read Mr Justice Floyd's judgment and see his reasoning. You can find it here: BAILII
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bowser
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again, you're starting to put my mind at rest here. My website layout and presentation are completely different in design. So if I can prove I used lots of sources then my activities are ok, well on the borders. I guess...

Am I legally bound to list my sources. Or will that incriminate me, like admitting fault at a car accident?

If the person concerned came along saying my activities cost him a lot of money £1000+ will I have to hire a lawyer?

You mention not being likely to face criminal proceedings but it is theoretically possible?

Seriously thanks so much for all your help so far Smile
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No you are not required to list your sources. That generally only applies to occasions where there might be a fair dealing exemption, which I don't think applies in your case. As you say, by making it easier for sites which are your sources, you might be inviting them to take action.
There is no real yardstick for saying in advance what damages might be asked for by a claimant. It will depend on the circumstances and to a certain extent, which court deals with the case. In theory a claimant needs to demonstrate his 'losses' before the court will accept them. Often this might be based on the licence fees he could have charged in order for you to have legitimately used the same data. An alternative method, which probably wouldn't be used in your case, is what is known as an account of profits, that is to say, a calculation of the profits you made by your use of the infringing data.
However, it is much more likely that someone who thought that you had infringed their database right or copyright would try to get you to agree to an out-of-court settlement. Now that you have a better understanding of the law, you could probably judge from their initial letter whether they were bluffing or if you needed to get some specific legal advice when dealing with them.
Finally here's what the law says about criminal prosecutions:
Quote:
107 Criminal liability for making or dealing with infringing articles, &c.
(1) A person commits an offence who, without the licence of the copyright owner—
    (a) makes for sale or hire, or
    (b) imports into the United Kingdom otherwise than for his private and domestic use, or
    (c) possesses in the course of a business with a view to committing any act infringing the copyright, or
    (d) in the course of a business —
      (i) sells or lets for hire, or
      (ii) offers or exposes for sale or hire, or
      (iii) exhibits in public, or
      (iv) distributes, or
      (e) distributes otherwise than in the course of a business to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright,

an article which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe is, an infringing copy of a copyright work.
(2) A person commits an offence who—
    (a) makes an article specifically designed or adapted for making copies of a particular copyright work, or
    (b) has such an article in his possession,
    knowing or having reason to believe that it is to be used to make infringing copies for sale or hire or for use in the course of a business.

(2A) A person who infringes copyright in a work by communicating the work to the public—
    (a) in the course of a business, or
    (b) otherwise than in the course of a business to such an extent as to affect prejudicially the owner of the copyright,

commits an offence if he knows or has reason to believe that, by doing so, he is infringing copyright in that work.
(3) Where copyright is infringed (otherwise than by reception of a communication to the public)—
    (a) by the public performance of a literary, dramatic or musical work, or
    (b) by the playing or showing in public of a sound recording or film,

any person who caused the work to be so performed, played or shown is guilty of an offence if he knew or had reason to believe that copyright would be infringed.
(4) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1)(a), (b), (d)(iv) or (e) is liable—
    (a) on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding £50,000, or both;
    (b) on conviction on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or both.

(4A) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (2A) is liable—
    (a) on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding £50,000, or both;
    (b) on conviction on indictment to a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both.

(5) A person guilty of any other offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or both.
(6) Sections 104 to 106 (presumptions as to various matters connected with copyright) do not apply to proceedings for an offence under this section; but without prejudice to their application in proceedings for an order under section 108 below.

as you can see a major ingredient which would need to be proved in a criminal prosecution is the knowledge that what was being done was an infringing act. This has to be proved at the higher legal standard of beyond reasonable doubt, and so for minor cases, as I suggest yours would be, there is little prospect of success, and in any case a prosecution would need to be seen as in the public interest, which it largely would not be if the claimant had adequate recourse to the civil courts. So I hope that further puts your mind at rest over criminal liability.
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bowser
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks again. I'm not going to run any potential risk. It's not really worth running the site if it will result in legal hassle.

Given I was just trying to do this to allow others to use the data as they saw fit. I had no idea about database law or that I was even starting to do something that could have legal ramifications. I also really didn't expect a reaction like that. It's left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.
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tackler7
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 5:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Sports Results (IP law) Reply with quote

bowser wrote:
Hi,

I'm after some advice on sports results and intellectual property. I have for the last few years been recording the results & lineups of my favourite sports team. This was originally done just for my personal benefit. About 2 years ago I published the data on my website. Since then I've been trying to add to the database and complete the full results history. I've got a long way into this now. Yesterday I received a message saying that one of the sites (I use many sources to cross check data where I can) I visit to research the results is thinking of doing something with regard their intellectual property rights.


As some one who has spent a considerable time researching and recording sports scores etc for my own research/pleasure I can see both sides of this issue.

I can understand the 'the other party' being miffed when he thinks someone is coming along and 'copying' all their hard work and then potentially financially benefiting from it.

I can also see Bowser's point in that he wants to make available the data for wider user and if possible make some money in doing so.

In reality, 'the other party' would have very little chance of supporting and proving an argument that you have 'copied' or even worse 'stolen' their data. The bigger the club/sport, the less chance they would have of showing that the originated the data - it's likely they just copied it from some other source anyway! The only way they could demonstrate anything is if we are talking about a small club with no record of the results etc being compiled and published by anyone else.

Your defence is that you have taken facts - this could be from you or a friend attending game or from a newspaper, book etc. How 'the other party' could demonstrate it came from them - unless they have seeded some data - and you should be able to check this as AndyJ says, then go ahead and don't worry.
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