A (Louisville) Courier-Journal reporter was stripped of his press credential at an NCAA Super Regional baseball game yesterday and asked to leave the stadium for live-blogging the game. Contrary to the views of some commentators (including, apparently, the newspaper's own lawyer in a prior story), this is not a copyright issue, as the NCAA does not appear to be claiming that the live-blogging infringed or otherwise violated its copyright in the game. (In probably the most widely quoted opinion addressing the issue, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the NBA v. Motorola case stated that sporting events are not original works of authorship subject to copyright protection.) Rather, the NCAA is claiming that as a condition of access to the press box or for receiving a press credential, a journalist must refrain from live-blogging or filing reports for publication during a game. While it is debatable whether a live blog is an adequate substitute for a television or radio broadcast, the NCAA is clearly trying to protect the value of the broadcast rights it licenses for TV, radio and other live media.
While the rules for credentialed journalists are often spelled out in applications for press passes, what about the citizen journalist who wants to blog a game from his or her seat? It's not hard to imagine one of the terms and conditions on the back of a ticket for a sporting event being that the ticket holder is not allowed to provide a live report of the event for consumption outside of the stadium. It could be an interesting question with more widespread application considering that more and more sports venues (perhaps most famously, San Francisco's [Insert Latest Name of Major Telco Here] Park) are offering WiFi access to enhance the fan experience.