Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Neal H. Kaplan


In National Basketball Association v. Motorola, Inc., the Second Circuit found that the results of a professional sporting event may be appropriated by a commercial pager company and a commercial online service without infringing upon any right of the leagues or the teams. Additionally, the court said that a state could not legislate to protect facts, which remain exempt from federal copyright protection, unless those facts can be considered to be "hot news." This paper suggests that the Second Circuit's holding in Motorola is out of sync with the economic world within which the sports industry operates and that it fundamentally threatens the public's interest in the continuing operation and success of professional sports leagues. The author examines the Motorola case in detail, explores the doctrinal and policy views surrounding copyright law, the First Amendment and the Fair Use Doctrine, as well as antitrust law, and proposes federal statutory provisions in regard to the Second Circuit's holding.