Monday, October 1, 2012

The NFL Changing the Property Rights Game.

           The NFL has done what few companies could ever dream.  It runs a complete Monopoly of its industry, as well as a Monopoly on every aspect of its name.  But we are going to look at property rights. 
     The NFL is broadcast on public TV, it has reporters representing local broadcast stations on the sidelines, and Fans paying to be at the game filling the stands.  But Can either create a reproduction of the game with out the consent of the NFL?  Legally you would think yes, a public reporter is reporting on the interest of the public, not to mention advertising for the NFL on local stations.  But the NFL Does not care and has placed it's self in a position that is almost above the laws of public broadcast which has a general rule in the U.S. copyright law that the person who operates the camera is the author of the footage.  How could this happen?  Certainly wouldn't they be sued?
     Looking at that concept, we are talking about a company with just about unlimited resources, including a inelastic demand for its product.  Those who try and follow the laws and sue for the rights of the game footage are met with a long legal battle against a opponent who in one form or another got O.J off the hook for murder.  But the NFL Does not want to be  Jerk and spend time in court arguing the laws of copy rights.  It has a 10 billion Dollar company to run.
     If you push, The NFL pushes back.  On November 4, 2003 the NFL Launched "The NFL Network".  It's brain child to truly just take over the market and copy right laws that allowed the brave to try and stand toe to toe with this giant.  As well as flex its muscle against anybody thinking the NFL needs them.  At its debut it had 11.5 million subscribers,  By 2006 40million and growing.  On top of having programs that could air what ever footage they wanted, the NFL limited regular broadcast on public stations like NBC, or ABC to only allow six minutes of game footage.  So if you ever wondered why you see the same play over and over its because the broadcaster cannot show more, or face loosing their contract with the NFL.  And did i mention they have to pay the NFL for the right to use the game footage their employees shot on the sidelines.  But we have always been told "He who has the gold makes the rules". 
    Surely we would see negative broadcast turds the NFL?  Well they have a clause in their property Rights contract "Highlights may not be used in a manner that negatively reflects on, or portrays in a negative light, the NFL, its professional member clubs, their players, coaches, fans, officials or the sport of football".  This too goes against fair-use law's.  But remember 10billion dollars is a lot of money,  and some of the wealthiest individual business men are owners of clubs in the NFL, do you think they would let you hide behind copy-right laws and affect their fine oiled "MONOPOLY".
     The NFL has declined to disclose its figures for the "Copy Right" contract extensions through 2022, but ESPN did report it is paying 1.9Billion a year to air "Monday Night Football", and report on other games played during the year.  Is that not what "Property Rights" are all about who gets to make the money.  Who owns the rights.  And What they get to do with that property.  The NFL operates in a "Invisible, but potent, legal force".  And year by year they will make more "expansive assertions of intellectual property".  The NFL is part of American culture,  like it, hate it,  the NFL is not going away,  in their eyes you should be happy with what ever piece of the pie you get.  But then again shouldn't you be, they baked that American pie.

1 comment:

  1. Matthew,

    In your post you wrote the following:

    "Surely we would see negative broadcast turds the NFL?"

    While I don't understand your intent, I do agree with your sentiment.