CBS Challenges NFL Players Association's Fighting Words on Licensing

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CBS Challenges NFL Players Association's Fighting Words on Licensing

Mon Sep 08, 2008 @ 12:58PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Nfl The NFL Players Association is now being hit on two fronts.

The NFLPA is already being sued by a bunch of former players who are unhappy at the amount of licensing revenue they are getting for video games.

Now CBS Interactive claims in a lawsuit filed in Minnesota District Court that the NFLPA "continues to threaten CBS Interactive with litigation if CBS Interactive does not pay the Players Association nationwide license fees for the use of publicly available statistics. It has gone so far as to say that if CBS Interactive takes any action to challenge its right to the licensing fees, it will never again grant rights necessary to operate fantasy games and will therefore put out of the fantasy football business."

Here's the complaint.

CBS Interactive, represented by Michael Lindsay at Dorsey & Whitney, is seeking a declaratory judgment that a right of publicity is superceded by free speech and fair use and that the NFLPA is violating antitrust laws with its threats.

Many lawyers thought the issue was settled after the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that copyright law didn't protect names, nicknames, likenesses, signatures, pictures, playing records, and biographical data. The Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge from Major League Baseball. But now that the NFLPA is apparently agitating on this front and Jim Brown is also suing here, a long-shot fourth quarter comeback is being tried.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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