back to article List-makers battle to keep football fixture lists protection

Everyone thought the question of what rights exist in football fixture lists was settled back in 2004 when the European Court of Justice concluded that the then-new database right did not protect football fixture lists. But a judge has just ruled that they are protected. What now? As many in the gambling industry will know, this …

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Nicknames

Has anyone ever tried publishing them as nicknames:

Gooners vs Bin-dippers, Sat 3pm

Citeh vs Spuds Sun 1pm

etc.

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Re: Nicknames

Publishing copyrighted work in a slightly different form, like your "nicknames", does not avoid the problem as you are still using their info to make a derived work. It's like saying, "Oh, can't we copy Star Wars for free if we put a blue filter on it?"

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There's no creativity here

Sure, it might require *effort* to devise a complete fixture list that satisfied the constraints, but that's a mathematical problem, not a creative act. It could be computerised. (It probably is.)

The maths might allow more than one possibility, so you had to pick one from the list of alternatives, but *that* is not a creative act either since there is no "artistic merit" in the actual choice and it might as well be done by the computer as part of the general algorithm.

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@Ken Hagan

It almost certainly is computerised. It sounds like a standard Operational Research/Linear Programming optimisation problem the likes of which you get taught at Uni i.e. given these constraints find a solution to this problem.

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FAIL

The European Court....

.....needs to get of its collective fat arse and read this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/paulfletcher/2009/06/secrets_of_the_fixture_compute.html?page=18

(Hat tip to Code Monkey who posted that link last time this was discussed here).

Whatever the rights and wrongs of copyright in this situation, it seems plain that this is waaaay more than a simple data creation exercise and that it is actually the manual checking, matching, cross-referencing and reworking of the first automated compilation draft of the source data that comprises the bulk of the process.

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Reporting

Arsenal will play Man United on the 12th of Febuary

Thats not a fixture list, it's reporting what will happen, so all the various fan sites (the sort run by genuine fans who don't make money out of it, the ones who will ultimately suffer, the people that already pay through the nose for watching the self absorbed prima-donna's prance around) only have to report on the next 12 months of games.

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Re: waaay more than a simple data creation exercise

I don't care how much work is involved. Walking 100 miles is waaay more than a single step, but it is not a creative act and so does not deserve protection as a performance work. Similarly, if your fixture list has no artistic merit, then you shouldn't be allowed to claim copyright on it.

The point of having intellectual property rights, lest we forget, is that society wants to reward creativity and inventiveness. I suspect that society is less keen to reward unimaginative grunts who are just looking to turn necessary admin into an additional revenue stream.

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Not difficult

So what, there are roughly 1000 matches to schedule. And a moderately large database of constraints determining which events can't take place on the same day, etc.

Not that difficult for a computer to solve.

There will be bugs in the constraints, and slight changes from year to year - they can be identified by manual checking, but the list can be fixed by running the program again. If the program is smart, it can minimise the changes in the new list.

The problem here seems to be that some guy is trying to do it in his head, in a slightly disorganised way (eg, asking for the policing constraints after producing the list rather than before).

Nothing in the article suggests this is anything more than simple data creation. The fact that they are going about it in a really inefficient manner doesn't suddenly make the list a work of art.

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FAIL

One solution

Pay the fixture devisers their fees, then demand a suitable sum from the FA for all the hitherto free advertising they get in newspapers, betting shops and wherever else.

You're a football league. Devising fixture lists is what you do. If you want to start charging people just to know who's playing who, maybe we'll just find something better to spend our money on than watching a bunch of overpaid chavs kicking a pig's bladder about.

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List of facts

All the work they are talking about is done to schedule the games. They do it so they can actually play the games not for the purpose of creating a list. Once they have their schedule creating a list is trivial and only contains a list of facts that should not be covered by copyright.

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Public Domain

What's that thing about things being published as news going into public domain? Surely publication of the fixtures in "Newspapers" and the fact that these items are of interest to the public as information or "News", surely once they are first published, it's a free for all.

Why is this so different?

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Excuse me Sir, I would like to buy a ticket

to watch a game of football.

Sorry Guv, can't tell you when its going to be played mate, its secret.

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Small wonder

Small wonder crowds are shrinking

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Grenade

Hmph

They used to produce the fixture lists just fine without computers in The Olden Days. (But then, they didn't have television to think about, either.)

Anyway, just because something took a lot of effort on your part, doesn't mean you have an automatic right to be paid for it. I don't dispute that list compilers have to eat; but they don't have to compile lists.

I look forward to the reversal of this judgement.

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Anonymous Coward

Surely this is counterproductive?

Whatever the legal situation, surely they are limiting the advertising of their product (the football matches). I would think that you would want this information as widely available as possible.

I am sure that a lot of websites would make good use of this information if it was available for free (and easily consumable from a web service). This would in turn drive up attendances at games.

It just seems a strange attitude to have. Almost like designing a poster for a gig and then banning anybody from sticking that poster in their shop window.

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Go

Time Machine

I wish I could meet someone with a time machine so I could go back 20 years and give me some advice - BECOME A LAWYER.

Given the (relatively) trivial amount of money involved in selling the rights, and the clearly unclear situation over their enforceability, the only winner out of this is the lawyers.

The list owners should cut the losses of everyone, and all free use of the list as long as ownership of the fixture list is clearly included.

Ultimately it is the leagues who pay for the lawyers, the clubs that pay for the leagues, and the public that pay for the clubs. Somebody somewhere please come to your senses and give the public value for money.

(note to El Reg - We need and Evil Lawyer icon

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Joke

Intellectual Property and Football

Surely the two terms are mutually exclusive.

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WTF?

Good Old Capitalism, eh?

It never lets common sense get in the way of the important business of making a profit.

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Anonymous Coward

Similar case involving Yahoo?

Yahoo were being taken to court re football fixture lists, in Jan 2009

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/markets/article.html?in_article_id=464994&in_page_id=3

anyone know what happened and the relevance to this case?

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WTF?

Work for Hire?

In other venues I believe the schedule is produced as a 'work for hire' and owned by the league, conference, or sporting authority which has an interest in making it freely and widely available.

The schedule monkeys cash their cheque for producing the schedule. That's the end of their rights.

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FAIL

Like Buses?

Isn't this the same as bus companies charging for timetables? Or being charged to see the menu at a restaurant?

Madness.

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Anonymous Coward

Not from Europe, whats a fixture list?

Could someone explain what a fixture list is?

It sounds like its just the list of games that will be played: In that case they should be giving away the data, even paying people to republish it.

If everyone stops paying, how will people know when the games are on and will buy fewer tickets.

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Joke

Is it any wonder...

...that many people have only contempt for copyright these days?

To anyone other than the 'rights holders' and the lawyers this is just stupid!

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Joke

And they said it couldn't be done - well here's the chance....

...to use interlectrical and Wayne Rooney in the same sentence.

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Go

False memory?

I remember a story from many years ago when the Premier League claimed Copyright on any full or partial fixtures list that was produced (reproduced?) on a Fan site. The Fan then published a list which contined a list of every possible combination of all possible fixtures for the following year and wrote to the Premier League claiming Copyright on any full or partial fixtures list reproduced from his list.

This, using exactly the same copyright arguments effectivly prevented the Primier League from telling anyone when any games were being played.

I think the result was that the fan was allowed to publish the fixture list for his team.

Anyone able to link to the story?

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Pint

Confused Aussie Here

WTF are you guys talkin' 'bout?

Is the football league over there claiming copyright on the season fixture list or something equally retarded?

The mind boggles.

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|Quite

Is the football league over there claiming copyright on the season fixture list or something equally retarded?

------------------------

I really couldn't have put it better myself.

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Unhappy

Fixtures and money

Just another example that football is about money, not sport.

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