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April 23, 2007


Gary Ashwill

Don't think I have them, actually.


Did we ever get fielding statistics from Patrick?

Gary Ashwill

Regardless of the legal question here, I do ask that readers respect Patrick’s wishes with regard to the material he took years and quite a lot of effort to put together. He didn’t have to post it here, and I’ll take it down if he wants me to. Also, I’d been hoping he’d eventually be able to make fielding stats available; if he doesn’t feel comfortable about it, he might not. The same goes for the compilation he’s doing of the 1923 ECL.

FWIW: I don’t think it’s an open and shut case that reconstructions of Negro League statistics aren’t copyrightable—the law and available precedents, including the recent fantasy baseball case, don’t quite address the specific situation here, at least in my view.

That said, of course I’m extremely sympathetic, in general, to criticisms of copyright law (thus my use of a Creative Commons license for this site). When I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll write up an entry about all this.

Fred Bobberts

Would not have mattered if you hadn't received permission. Facts themselves cannot be copyrighted, Patrick.

The 1976 Act explains that copyright extends to "original works of authorship," 17 U.S.C. 102(a), and that there can be no copyright in facts, 102(b). [499 U.S. 340, 341] A compilation is not copyrightable per se, but is copyrightable only if its facts have been "selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship." 101 (emphasis added). Thus, the statute envisions that some ways of selecting, coordinating, and arranging data are not sufficiently original to trigger copyright protection. Even a compilation that is copyrightable receives only limited protection, for the copyright does not extend to facts contained in the compilation. 103(b).

While I would agree that you authored the work and compiled it, I would also argue that the facts themselves once presented would not pass the test for protection in section 103(b). If Rube Foster pitched 100 innings and struck out seventy, he is the author of the fact, and I can use that information however I please. And some day I will.

Replay's card images are, of course, protected. Factual information on them is not. I am watching all of this with keen interest.

Fred Bobberts
Albuquerque, NM.

Scott Simkus

Joseph Heller, where are you? Oh yeah... dead. I'm waiting for somebody to write an article about the aftermath of the Hall of Fame Negro League study, baseball's version of Catch-22. Seventeen new members of the Hall of Fame, 99% of the statistical findings still in purgatory, 50+ talented NeG Lg researchers muzzled by a legal agreement they signed at the beginning of the project. A year removed from the election, I'm wondering if there are any regrets regarding the structure of the deal. In retrospect, has this helped or hindered the research of Negro League ball? Be curious to get the opinion of those of you who were involved in the project.

Patrick Rock

Okay, let me clarify that these stats may not be used for any COMMERCIAL purpose. Mischa long ago sought and gained permission to use the stats for SBS, as it is free software. That said, we ask that these statistics (as well as sll of Gary's) are not to be reproduced elsewhere (as in an encyclopedia or commercial tabletop game) for profit, nor without attribution.

These are placed here for the benefit of researchers and others interested in the history and statistics of the Negro Leagues.

It is a major concern of the SABR Negro League Committee that a commerical interest might take the stats, make their own encyclopedia, claim copyright, and render all the volunteer work that produced those stats in vain. We're all still waiting for the Hall to produce its own encyclopedia to take care of that issue, but no word so far.


This is fantastic. Thank-you to Gary and Patrick.

I'll be placing my order for the Replay Book (and game) shortly.

Mischa Gelman

In terms of use for gaming purposes, this does not mean that my using them for the freeware Strategic Baseball Simulator was illegal. I checked with both Patrick and Pete Ventura of Replay baseball beforehand. Just wanted to clarify that I did not act incorrectly.

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