Saturday, September 30, 2006

Thinking Blue

I was, of course, cheering on my hometown team, the Los Angeles Dodgers today, who have officially made it into the play-offs this year with a victory over the San Francisco Giants. "How has America's traditional pasttime become a digital rhetoric story?" you might ask. Well, it's actually a tale of Virtualpolitik in four significant ways.

First, those who watched the game on television saw virtual billboards that were invisible to those in the stadium, thanks to the wonders of green screen technology.

Second, those who have been following the team live during their home games in Chavez Ravine, may have been struck by the number and variety of blinking, flashing, and glowing digital displays in the stadium. Now that even drivers and air travelers are accustomed to a crowded information environment full of numerical data and graphical maps, a spectator sport that relies on some knowledge of statistics in its fan base surrounds the live audience with digits and images.

Third, if you listened to the game on the radio, with play-by-play from longtime Dodgers sportscaster Vin Scully, who has provided a half century worth of commentary, you might have been struck by the elaborate midgame copyright notice that alerts listeners to the fact that even descriptions of individual plays are proprietary intellectual property. Thus the "traffic accident" recounted when the Giant's fielding failed them could be seen as an original and fixed tangible form of expression to be owned by a particular individual or corporate author.

Fourth, those who "watched" the game on their desktops at, which is the most common way that I "watch" baseball during my multitasking life, may have jumped to order tickets for postseason play. However, there's a copyright notice to contend with there as well:

The ticket holder acknowledges that the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball or Major League Baseball Properties, Inc., as applicable, is the owner of all copyrights and other proprietary rights in any description, account, picture, video, audio, or reproduction of all postseason games, including pre-game and post-game activities ("Game Information"). Each ticket holder is admitted upon, among others, the conditions set forth herein, and by use of the postseason tickets, agrees that the ticket holder will not transmit or aid in the transmission of any Game Information for any postseason game to which the ticket holder is admitted. Breach of the foregoing will automatically terminate the license granted by the postseason tickets to the ticket holder for the applicable postseason game.

What I find amazing is that a "description" can be copyrighted.

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