Is there copyright on sporting results? For example Tour De France results have the rank/position of each cyclist, the cyclist's name, and the cyclist's finish time/result.

1, Thibaut Pinot, 3:17:21; 2, Nairo Quintana, 3:17:39; 3, Ryder Hesjedal, 3:18:02; 4, Alejandro Valverde, 3:18:59; 5, Chris Froome, 3:18:59;

This data is factual so can copyright be applied? This data is not original so can copyright be applied? There's an argument that finish times are an original work because they originated from the Tour's timing equipment. The counter argument is finish time could alternatively be sourced from mainstream media, social media, or from the cyclist themselves and so are not an original work.


3 Answers 3


In the US, this question was addressed in NBA v. Motorola (1997), in which a sports league sued a company providing a real-time scores service. The district court held that the facts of the game were not copyrighted, though the broadcast was, and that NBA's copyright was not infringed. The Second Circuit affirmed.

  • Thank you for your responses. A supplementary question if I may: Are the finish times (e.g. 3:17:20.973) 'facts' given that they come from only one source, the Tour's timing equipment?
    – pte19022
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 4:20
  • 2
    That specific issue wasn't raised in the case at hand, and I don't know of any case law that has raised it. I would be surprised if it turns out to be relevant. There's a nice report here (see the Notes tab) that seems in general to say that for something to be copyrightable, there has to be an element of human creativity in its creation. Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 13:34

There is no copyright in the facts. There is copyright in the particular presentation of those (font, color, layout etc)


While statistics are not subject of copyright, visualizations are copyrightable. So, while Tour results can be remixed in any way, a graphic from ESPN is likely to be protected.

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