AGON sued Chess24, ChessGames, and ChessBomb in the NY. The US District Judge ruled against AGON, just as the Judge in Moscow. AGON is simply wrong to insist that no one can share or discuss chess moves in real time. Yes, the video portion should be copyrighted and protected, but definitely NOT the moves.
Are chess moves protected under U.S. copyright law?
Chess moves are not protected by United States copyright law. This is because, like sports scores and statistics, the moves that a player makes on a chessboard during a match are not creative works of authorship. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit gave the following explanation of the difference between facts and works of authorship in the context of sporting events:
“Sports events are not ‘authored’ in any common sense of the word. There is, of course, at least at the professional level, considerable preparation for a game. However, the preparation is as much an expression of hope or faith as a determination of what will actually happen. Unlike movies, plays, television programs, or operas, athletic events are competitive and have no underlying script. Preparation may even cause mistakes to succeed, like the broken play in football that gains yardage because the opposition could not expect it. Athletic events may also result in wholly unanticipated occurrences, the most notable recent event being in a championship baseball game in which interference with a fly ball caused an umpire to signal erroneously a home run.”
NBA v. Motorola, 105 F.3d 841, 846 (2d Cir. 1996). This conclusion has been reaffirmed in a variety of circumstances, including in C.B.C. Distrib. & Mktg., Inc. v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media, L.P., which noted that sports data used in a fantasy baseball league was “all readily available in the public domain.” 505 F.3d 818, 820 (8th Cir. 2007). Basic factual information about chess moves is no different from any other factual information generated from a sports match or other public event and thus cannot be protected under copyright law.
Important Court Decision below: