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Baltimore Orioles v. Major League Baseball Players Ass'n

United States Court of Appeals for Seventh Circuit
805 F.2d 663 (1986)


Facts

In 1947, the baseball leagues included in their standard contract with players that pictures could be taken for photographs, motion pictures, or television and that all rights connected to the pictures belonged to the respective baseball team and usable for publicity purposes. When the players engaged in collective bargaining during the late 1960s, language was inserted into the contracts that stated nothing in the agreements affected whatever rights or obligations either side had with respect to broadcasts. In 1982, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) (defendant), as exclusive bargaining agent for the players, sent letters to the teams and broadcasters stating that any telecast without players’ consent constituted misappropriation of the players’ property right in their performance during the game. Thereafter, the baseball clubs, including the Baltimore Orioles (plaintiff), filed suit in federal district court seeking a declaration that they had the exclusive right to the televised performances of the players. The district court granted declaratory relief in favor of the teams and the MLBPA appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Eschbach, J.)

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