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Is Google licensed to show MLB scores above their results?



3:15 am on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member

MLB, NHL, NFL etc all provide live feeds of their scores to news agencies for a (hefty) fee. If you Google "MLB scores" you can now see the current scores above any search results(e.g. not just final scores, actual live scores) but you do not see the required disclaimer that the data is copyright by MLB, NHL, NFL etc.

What's the deal, scraped/stolen content or is Google now buying data to report?

Robert Charlton

8:43 pm on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Move from [webmasterworld.com...] in the Google SEO discussion forum...
Posted by Robert_Charlton...
Sgt_Kickaxe - Your question goes over the same ground as this discussion you started here in Oct 2011, on much the same topic....

How do I stop Google from poaching data for snippets?
http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4370321.htm [webmasterworld.com]

The discussion is worth rereading, as it was thorough and should have covered your concerns about sports data licensing. The major league teams do not go unrewarded because of such results in the serps.

Posted by Sgt_Kickaxe...

That's what I want to know, is Google licensing the data? I'm not particularly interested in sports data per say but unfortunately my niche is one that Google may very well decide to provide information for directly above all serps too, eventually.

If Google is properly licensing the data, like every other site displaying it must, then I have no problems with it. NOWHERE can I find any information that says the data is licenced by MLB, copyright by MLB (or its subsidiaries/partners etc). In fact Google doesn't even say where they are getting the data, it's just there.

I think they not only could but SHOULD disclose a little more about the data they display above serps. Even a link to an agreement. Otherwise there is nothing stopping anyone from repeating the data Google is displaying and profiting accordingly (sports scores are big to live ticker providing sports gambling sites which is not me, but it's a good example)

I hope that clears up the fact that I'm not ranting on Google here, I'm wanting to know and gauge how it may impact me when my data type is offered up too. As you pointed out I was concerned months ago and this is an example of where that concern was coming from, Google expanding their use of content above serps.

Are the links to the MLB pages enough to imply copyright?

The scores under discussion are in reference to Google's new "MLB search feature", which Google announced in its April Search Quality Highlights....

Try searching for [sf giants score] or [mlb scores].

In the "poaching" thread noted above, Tedster noted that the source of Google sports scores is described on the Google's Search Features page.

Sports Scores
To see scores and schedules for sports teams type the team name or league name into the search box. This is enabled for many leagues including the National Basketball Association, National Football League, National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball.

All sports data provided by STATS LLC

Tedster also noted...

STATS LLC is currently a joint venture between News Corporation and the Associated Press. STATS LLC has had a long history, and forged a lot of agreements with the eighty-some sports leagues they cover world-wide. reference [en.wikipedia.org]

Other types of "search features" are also covered on Google's Search Features page [google.com], and most of them appear to be internal services that Google provides, rather than being outsourced, like sports.

The Sports Scores section of the Features page appears to be unchanged. I don't believe that the disclaimer ever did appear in the serps page itself... That would simply make for too busy a page.

IANAL... It's likely that any news source reporting these major league games is subject to the same copyright restrictions that are vividly summarized in the closing credits of every major league broadcast I've seen or heard, and while these scores may appear in ESPN and elsewhere, it's likely that their use is covered by similar licenses in a long chain of agreements.

It wouldn't make sense for Google to expend the additional time, money, and effort it obviously has put into the display of these scores and not have the source covered.

That said, underlying this question are many deeper and more difficult issues of data aggregation and of Google moving into some verticals.

The combination of the computer, digital media, and the internet is in many ways bringing change as profound as the changes brought by Gutenberg's printing press. It's already difficult, in the realm of ideas, to determine what's original and what's not... and on the internet what's scraped and what's not. Who "owns", for example, the factoid regarding the height of the Empire State Building?

It's likely that Major League Baseball scores can be licensed with some sort of clarity of ownership. It will be very difficult, I think, to sort out less precise areas of intellectual property ownership, though, and of the practicalities of maintaining those rights, going forward.

I suspect this is part of the concern of the original question... and it's a very legitimate concern.


9:50 pm on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator ergophobe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

is Google licensing the data?

There is no copyright on data. Why do they need to license it?


10:35 pm on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member topr8 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

>>There is no copyright on data.

not a lawyer, but i'm pretty sure that (some) sports fixtures and scores and league tables can be 'owned' and cannot be published without permission.

Robert Charlton

11:20 pm on May 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

There is no copyright on data. Why do they need to license it?

Well, as I say, it gets cloudy...

Again, from the STATS LLC Wikipedia page [en.wikipedia.org...]


In 1996 STATS and Motorola won on appeal a court case brought by the NBA, which was trying to stop STATS from distributing in-game information via a special wireless device created by Motorola. The victory in this case has played a large part in other cases where professional sports leagues have tried to suppress live in-game information being distributed by other outlets.[7] STATS is currently the NBA's official provider of statistics.

I leave it to your imagination what they might decide to protect, at what time, and in what form.

I suppose if Google still had a deal with Twitter, Google could mine the Twitter feed 'firehose' and get live stats that way. Which Twitter tweeter is going to sue? Could it be a class action suit? ;)

IANAL, and I don't want to be one.

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