Do private persons have the freedom to live blog or comment on games on progress in professional sports?

For example, can a web caster watch the game on TV and then give his running commentary and graphics showing the score on his web site or on Twitch TV?

(Note I am not asking about rebroadcasting video, just about a person making their own commentary and graphics for the game. By a "graphic", I mean, for example, a box score in baseball.)

  • 6
    In NBA v. Motorola, the Second Circuit ruled in favor of a company that sold a pager service delivering live sports score updates. But I don't know what further developments have taken place since then. Feb 4, 2019 at 3:32
  • 7
    Related (and quoting the case Nate linked above): How can the NFL assert copyright over “any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game”? Feb 4, 2019 at 6:00
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    For a more notable question, can you give an indication as to why you think this might not be the case? Feb 4, 2019 at 10:57
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    @Falco The more you veer from commentary to reproduction, the more likely it will be deemed a derivative work and thus infringing.
    – Barmar
    Feb 4, 2019 at 17:25
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    @only_pro the NFL specifically announces near the beginning of every game, "Any other use of this telecast or any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game without the NFL's consent is prohibited." It's a reasonable legal question to ask whether that's enforceable.
    – Kevin
    Feb 4, 2019 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


In the United States at least, the answer is clearly "Yes". Absent some restrictive agreement to which the would-be blogger is explicitly a party, a person has a protected right to comment or report on events and publish opinions of them. The question does not mention a location or jurisdiction, and I am not suren what the law on this point might be in non-US jurisdictions.

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    There is the issue of trademarks, and specifically that if you use the trademarked term "Superbowl", in a context where anything like advertising or money changing hands might occur, the owners of that particular trademark are likely to come down on you like a ton of bricks. Technically, if you are just referring to it, you are legally allowed to use the trademarked name, but often in the US the party with the biggest lawyers wins.
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 4, 2019 at 14:57
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    @T.E.D. "often in the US the party with the deepest pockets wins." FTFY. It doesn't matter how good your lawyer is if the other side can run out the clock (so to speak!) on your ability to pay them. Feb 4, 2019 at 17:17
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    @T.E.D. And the people who own the trademark for "The Superbowl" are notorious for sending takedown notices after anyone and everything without regard for what their trademark actually covers to the point where a ton of people and companies have just stopped trying to fight it and now just refer to it as "the big game", which the NFL had tried to get the trademark for too, but was denied. Feb 4, 2019 at 20:22
  • @MasonWheeler - I like my phrasing better, and it means essentially the same thing. This is one of those situations where "Well, acutally..."ing something just argues for making it less zippy without fundamentally enlightening the reader on the topic at hand.
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 8, 2019 at 15:50

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