16 March 2007

But Is It Cricket?

This raises some interesting issues about what exactly copyright covers:

A cricketing website has found what it hopes is an inventive way to bypass copyright laws to show users action from the Cricket World Cup.

Despite the fact that Sky Television has the exclusive rights to broadcast the live action from the West Indies, Cricinfo.com is using computer animation to provide ball-by-ball coverage to non-Sky viewers.


Wisden said it had carefully consulted lawyers before going ahead with the simulations in this week's World Cup. "Cricinfo 3D is based on public domain information gathered by our scorers who record a number of factors such as where the ball pitched, the type of shot played and where the ball goes in the field," said a Wisden statement. "That data is then fed as an xml to anyone who has Cricinfo 3D running on their desktops and the software generates an animation based on this data."

The issues is whether the information about the match is in the public domain, and can thus be fed into a simulation, or whether the rights that Sky has bought cover that information in some way.

I'd say not, because you generally can't copyright (or patent) pure information: for intellectual monopolies to be granted, you need to go beyond the facts to add artistic expression in the case of copyright, or non-obvious inventive steps in the case of patents. Cricinfo 3D seems to be a new artistic interpretation of pure data, independent of Sky's own "artistic" images of the game (i.e., the camera shots they take).

Not that intellectual monopolies are known for their strict adherence to the laws of logic....

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